Making a Concrete Impact

A $70 million donation spurs engineering boom

College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Research

The largest gift ever made to an OSU academic unit has increased support for engineering students, grown the rolls of aspiring engineers and fostered innovation in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.

Dolese Bros. Co. split a stock gift worth approximately $210 million among OSU, Kansas State University and the University of Oklahoma. In addition to gaining shares worth about $70 million, each school became a nonvoting majority shareholder in Oklahoma's largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, crushed stone, gravel and sand.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, it is the 25th-largest private gift for higher education since 1967.

Dolese Bros. officials say the commitment was Roger Dolese's vision. To keep the company private and increase engineers coming from nearby universities, he finalized the charitable partnership before his death in 2002.

"Roger Dolese's forward-thinking approach to benefiting engineering programs for decades to come will make a profound impact at Oklahoma State," OSU President Burns Hargis says. "Being able to provide scholarships for our students and recruit outstanding young people to engineering will allow us to increase the number of highly trained graduates in this competitive field."

Each year, Dolese Bros. intends to buy back at least $500,000 worth of stock from the foundations so the universities can use the money to increase engineering enrollment. Company officials say the gift is a type of long-term annuity that will eventually allow the company to be 100 percent employee owned.

"At Dolese, we value our employees and the communities that we impact," says Mark Helm, president of Dolese Bros.

Roger Dolese

Roger Dolese

"Every day Dolese delivers products that make everything from the roads you drive on to the offices you work in, the schools you learn in and the foundation of the home where you live," he says. "This gift is a true testament of how Dolese delivers on our commitment to our employees, the communities we serve and planning for the future."

The gift was rolled out privately at OSU in 2010 and has since contributed to a 30 percent enrollment spike in engineering disciplines. It has also led to a commitment to hiring more faculty.

CEAT Dean Paul Tikalsky says Dolese's generosity will help OSU meet the needs of the state, region and nation.

"These graduates are the intellectual capital for growing companies throughout the nation and building a strong economy," Tikalsky says.

"Young engineers are leading the next generation in building a more sustainable world, creating new entrepreneurial business, improving medicine, securing our nation, advancing new energy resources and efficiencies and developing systems that deliver goods and services to every nation," he says. "This gift will benefit these future engineers for generations to come by funding new scholarships each year to help students succeed."

The donation supports scholarships, tutors and peer-to-peer mentors.

"This gift adds hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for scholarships," Tikalsky says. "That helps us further encourage engineering students to complete their degrees in a timely manner with little or no debt."

Tikalsky says the effect of the gift is magnified because of collaborations involving OSU, OU and KSU.

"We work together in research and education programs at a very large scale," he says. "We work with KSU and other Big 12 schools on nuclear- and petroleumengineering courses, and we were recently awarded a $2.7 million annual grant along with OU for a transportation-research center."

Tikalsky says CEAT is challenging other donors to help build the spaces and labs necessary to accommodate the increased enrollment.

"The college has a bold, strategic plan to engage all of our faculty and students in the challenges of the 21st century," he says. "Beyond this gift, we also plan to add 50 new faculty members over the next five years, double our research efforts and have 40 percent of our graduates participating in a global educational experience."