DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana recently received a $20 million gift from alumnus Don Daseke and his wife Barbara to support The DePauw Trust (the school's endowment for need-based support) and other vital initiatives at the univeresity.
Daseke graduated from the liberal arts school in 1961 before going on to receive an MBA from the University of Chicago. Based in Texas, Daseke is the chairman, president and CEO of Daseke Inc., one of the largest open deck/specialty trucking companies in North America.
This tale of higher education giving involves gratitude, a common theme we talk about at Inside Philanthropy. Long before Daseke went on to enormous success, he was a Rector Scholar at DePauw. The financial aid he received as well as the relationships he developed and sustained, left a lasting impression.
Don't believe me? Well, Daseke has spoken about professors he had as a student whom he's kept in contact with over the years. Actually, to be more precise, he says that these professors played an active role in keeping in touch with him: "This started back in college when a couple of professors took a personal interest in me and long after I graduated... They really cared about me as a person and they cared about what was important to me and where I was going in life. That meant a lot to me and I decided I was going to follow that example."
In the couple's most recent gift, Daseke also uses similar language: "I stayed in contact with professors here long after I left DePauw. DePauw believed in me and invested in me by giving me the Rector Scholarship and we are thrilled that our gift will support the DePauw Trust for future scholarships and other strategic initiatives here at DePauw."
This isn't the first time that university faculty have played a role in a big higher education gift, and it won't be the last. These figures can often be leaders in their field, and can help guide students through their early experiences in a career. Daseke was an economics major at DePauw and went on to many successful entrepreneurial endeavors.
It's also worth emphasizing that a component of the Dasekes' gift targets scholarships, and it's financial aid that helped Daseke get his start at DePauw in the first place. Daseke has been a trustee of his alma mater since 1985, yet more evidence of this family's strong ties to the Indiana school, and their commitment to it.