Endowments make a lasting impact

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To ensure continued exceptional education and research opportunities for dairy science students, Thompson and his wife, Marilyn, created a $2 million endowment named the David A. Thompson Endowed Department Head and Professor.

Inspired by growing up on a dairy farm near Milbank, David A. Thompson studied dairy science at South Dakota State University. As a student, David A. Thompson worked at the SDSU dairy plant, eventually becoming its student manager. Today, the Distinguished Alumnus and former president of Abbott Laboratories Diagnostic Division credits the education and research experience he gained with launching his 31-year career.

“I owe a lot of the success in my career to the education I received at SDSU. My experience at the SDSU dairy plant truly gave me a leg up,” explained Thompson, who helped Abbott develop the first licensed test to detect HIV in blood. “SDSU is one of the few universities in the country that offers a comprehensive dairy science program that gives students hands-on experience through its dairy plant and dairy farm.”

To ensure continued exceptional education and research opportunities for dairy science students, Thompson and his wife, Marilyn, created a $2 million endowment named the David A. Thompson Endowed Department Head and Professor. 

“I’m privileged and excited to be able to give back and help the department to continue to improve by attracting the best people to run the department,” said Thompson, who also made a generous gift to help build the SDSU Davis Dairy Plant. “I’m especially pleased that Dr. Vikram Mistry is the first to receive this honor as he has made many important, positive changes to the department and is a great influence on his students.”

Mistry has served the dairy and food science department since 1986, becoming head of the department in 2002. The endowment will provide ongoing support of the department’s faculty, facilities, research, education and outreach. 

The perpetual-funding nature of endowed funds allow donors to make a lasting impact, explains Dr. Dennis Hedge, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“Endowments are a tremendous legacy. Think about it, not only do they impact our academic and research work today, endowments live on into the future. Is there anything more powerful than something that will live on throughout time?”
- Provost Hedge

Designed to support the interests of the endowment’s namesake, the fund’s impact is infinite. “In our quest for academic and research excellence, endowments allow us to do things we otherwise would not be able to do,” Hedge said. “They provide the fuel for innovation that advances research ideas and academic programming.” 

Endowed funds, Hedge explains, position the university to capitalize on opportunities as they emerge. Endowments can allow the university to supplement salaries to recruit high-caliber faculty, provide funds to maintain leading-edge research or launch innovative academic programs. “Endowments open doors for SDSU. They advance the mission of the university,” he said. “They position us for greater success.”

In addition to capital, endowments are considered a prestigious honor. 

“When one has the honor of sitting in an endowed chair or professorship, it is truly a significant milestone in one’s career,” Hedge said. “Endowments send a message to faculty, students and other stakeholders.”

Endowment Perpetuates Excellence

“The endowment ensures that whatever the future is, our students will be served by excellent faculty, facilities and research opportunities,” explained Mistry, the first recipient of the endowed position.

Celebrated as the nation’s top dairy science program, SDSU is one of only two in the country to provide undergraduate and graduate students with education and research opportunities in dairy production and dairy manufacturing. In 2015, the department added a food science major for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Built on a foundation of teaching and research, Mistry says industry competes for SDSU graduates, as evidenced by 100 percent job placement and strong starting salaries. 

Serving the department and students for 33 years, Mistry says he is humbled to be the first to hold the endowed title. And, he values the power of endowment funds to continue the department’s journey of excellence, investing in innovative research, cutting-edge facilities and recruitment of high-caliber faculty and students.

“This endowment perpetuates excellence and allows the department to expand to new heights. We are grateful for Mr. Thompson’s generous support of our programs. He has already inspired us to excel. In addition, his support will have a lasting impact on lives of students and will help shape the dairy and food industry for the future.”
- Dr. Vikram Mistry

SDSU has a bold goal to grow the number of endowed positions from 19 to 50.

We are nearly halfway there, with commitments ranging in focus from economics and engineering to oncology and music. Opportunities exist in virtually every program.