A visionary gift: $70 million for K-State engineering
By Hayli Morrison
A gift valued at $70 million – the largest gift in Kansas State University history – will benefit students in the College of Engineering for decades to come.
Officials of Oklahoma City-based Dolese Bros. Co. publicly announced in October that the private company has gifted much of its stock in equal amounts to Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma through each institution’s foundation.
The arrangement establishes the foundations as nonvoting majority shareholders in Oklahoma’s largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, crushed stone, gravel and sand. Dolese is annually buying back at least $500,000 of stock from the schools in support of the company’s profit sharing plan and long-term goal of becoming wholly employee-owned. Dolese hopes the stock will grow in value over time and ultimately benefit the universities’ work to increase engineering graduates across the nation.
The College of Engineering plans to use the funds for student scholarships as well as tutoring and mentoring programs to boost student retention and graduation rates. The gift coincides with the statewide University Engineering Initiative Act, which is shaping K-State’s efforts to boost the number of annual engineering graduates to 587, an increase of 39 percent over 10 years. The College of Engineering is simultaneously embarking on a $40 million facilities expansion plan.
“These funds are a true gift,” said Gary Clark, interim dean of engineering. “They are so timely and critical to help us with our strategic plan to increase the number of engineering graduates and align with K-State’s 2025 vision. With this gift, Dolese specifically implored us to increase the number of engineering graduates as quickly as possible, which aligns perfectly with the initiative already underway in our college.”
Dolese officials say the gift is the result of the vision of the late Roger Dolese, who led the family-founded company for decades. As part of Dolese’s plan to keep the company privately owned and increase the number of engineers coming from nearby universities, he finalized the charitable partnership prior to his death in 2001. The gift is being announced publicly now that it is fully complete, although the three universities have benefited from the arrangement since its initiation.
“For years the gift from Dolese has allowed us to capitalize on unprecedented enrollment growth in the College of Engineering and boost our engineering graduation rate,” said Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. “The funding came at a key time as K-State works to become a top 50 public research university by 2025.”