Alumni couple donates $5M to UD

A University of Dayton alumni couple have donated $5 million to support those with financial need attending the college.

The money, given by Margie Klesse and Bill Klesse, will go toward undergraduate scholarships and research opportunities in science and engineering, according to the university. Their gift will establish the Margie and Bill Klesse Scholars Program, which on top of scholarships will also provide funding for “summer research fellowships.”

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“It’s a forward-thinking gift that supports our vision of creating more robust scholarship programs and deeper, hands-on learning experiences,” said UD president Eric Spina. “The Klesses’ generous commitment will help us attract talented, intellectually curious students, no matter their ZIP code or family’s income level to fields of study that will make America more innovative and competitive.”

Margie Klesse is a 1968 chemistry graduate and Bill Klesse is a 1968 chemical engineering grad. Each went on to work in science and engineering and Bill Klesse retired as CEO and chairman of Valero Energy Corp. in 2014.

The couple said they understand the importance of financial aid and paid research opportunities because of their own financial challenges paying for college.

When Margie Klesse’s father died during her freshman year, a Marianist brother helped her obtain a job on campus in a research lab to defray expenses, according to UD.

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Bill Klesse, a New Jersey native, remembers saving money from delivering newspapers and working in a grocery store during high school to pay for his UD tuition. When his savings ran out, he got a loan from his future wife to finish his studies, according to the university.

“We are very committed to the sciences in education,” Bill Klesse said. “We want to help students by offering financial aid and making it more economical to attend a university where they’ll get a great education.”

The couple returned to the city and campus for the first time in 47 years for the dedication of the soccer complex in 2015. They told the university that they want to continue to give back to the school that helped them succeed when they faced financial need.

“The opportunity at UD is going to be very valuable to students,” Margie Klesse said. “We’re just glad to be able to make some of that possible.”


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