FARGO - An alumnus has given North Dakota State University a record donation of $13.5 million for scholarships earmarked for students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The gift, announced Thursday, Nov. 3, was given by Harry D. McGovern, a 1966 civil engineering graduate who grew up in Erie, N.D. His donation was matched by $1.2 million from the state's challenge grant program, for a total of $14.7 million.
NDSU President Dean Bresciani expressed thanks for the university's largest single gift commitment, saying the donation will improve many lives and benefit North Dakota.
"Harry's commitment to NDSU and enthusiasm about what is happening here is demonstrated in this generous gift," Bresciani said in a statement. "Just as his experience as an NDSU student was transformative, his gift will change the lives of students who receive his scholarship."
The scholarship gift combines current donations with estate planning. Once fully implemented, the scholarship fund will provide about 50 students with full-tuition scholarships each year. The first McGovern Scholars will enroll for the upcoming academic year.
"When President Bresciani and I began talking about ways to make a difference for students, he impressed upon me the need to have a signature scholarship program that would attract young people to NDSU," McGovern said in a statement. "I wanted to make an impact on as many students as possible, particularly for students pursuing STEM degrees, and he said full-tuition scholarships could accomplish that."
McGovern declined to be interviewed. The scholarships will be awarded based on academic achievement as well as pursuit of degrees in STEM fields. NDSU recently named a new STEM classroom and laboratory building for the late A. Glenn Hill, once a math professor at the university.
The gift was handled by the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association, whose president said McGovern is not only making an impact today, but leaving a permanent legacy.
"The gift's structure is such that Harry will enjoy the impact of having nearly 50 McGovern Scholars pursuing their education dreams today, while his long-term plan is to permanently endow the scholarship for future generations," said John Glover, president of the foundation and alumni group.
McGovern lives in California, where he was co-owner of MCM Construction Inc., a bridge and highway contractor.
Earlier, McGovern donated $1 million to the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Center for the alumni center that opened in 2012 and bears the name Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center.
McGovern credited the university for teaching him engineering and business skills that enabled him to give back to his alma mater.
"My heart remains in North Dakota and at North Dakota State University," he said when he made the earlier gift.