Retired Science Professor Gives Back

For Lowell and Deanna Satterlee, SDSU is where their story truly began.

As a teen, science was all Lowell Satterlee thought about.

“I was kind of a nerdy kid,” Lowell said.

“In high school, I had more of an interest in science than girls. Even my mother was worried about that.”

He explains that even though his mom worried about his all-consuming hobby, she didn’t discourage him.

“I remember riding my motor scooter over to Morrell’s (the local meat packing plant) and getting cow eyeballs, bringing them home, and dissecting them,” Lowell said. “My mother tolerated it. She even let me keep them in her refrigerator.”

Unfortunately, Lowell’s chemistry teacher was not quite so supportive.

“I had a difficult time in high school chemistry; I really did. So, I was encouraged to find a college major that didn’t involve any chemistry,” he explained.

However, Lowell couldn’t avoid chemistry. When he enrolled at SDSU in 1961, it was a required course.

“I went into the class with trepidation, but this time I had a really good chemistry teacher who made the science applicable, and all at once, chemistry seemed easier for me,” Lowell explained.

“This teacher made a world of difference.”

- Lowell Satterlee

Inspired by his college chemistry professor and other SDSU faculty, Lowell went on to pursue a bachelor’s in chemistry from SDSU and a master’s and doctorate in biochemistry from Iowa State University.

He would go on to teach chemistry courses at the University of Nebraska and Penn State, eventually serving as department head at Penn State, dean of Agriculture at North Dakota State, and research director at Oklahoma State University.

“I taught for 32 years and patterned my teaching after my SDSU chemistry professor,” Lowell explained.

As for his mother’s worries about him meeting a girl? Well, SDSU played a role in that, too.

Lowell met Deanna when he was invited by a college friend to attend a dance in her hometown. Turns out, Deanna worked fulltime on campus as a secretary.

The couple married Lowell’s junior year and welcomed the first of their three daughters his senior year. Even as a new mother, Deanna kept working, so that Lowell could focus on his degree.

Lowell and Deanna Satterlee smiling together
Lowell and Deanna Satterlee smiling outside together
Lowell and Deanna Satterlee posing with their six grandchildren

More than fifty-nine years later, along with his professors, Lowell credits Deanna for supporting him throughout undergraduate and graduate school.

“I have to commend Deanna. Throughout undergraduate, and all the way through graduate school, she worked to help support us.”

- Lowell Satterlee

In recognition of the impact SDSU had on their life together, the Satterlees established the Dr. Lowell and Deanna Satterlee Scholarship to be awarded to students pursuing degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, thanks to a charitable IRA rollover gift established by the couple.

Benefits of a charitable IRA rollover

“Instead of paying taxes on extra taxable income, we sat down with the Gift Planning team to find out if there was a way we could use our required minimum distribution to help the institution that really helped give us our start in life,” Lowell explained.

Following a lifetime of meaningful careers in the fields they’re passionate about and a lifelong marriage that grew from a budding romance at SDSU, Lowell and Deanna Satterlee have generously given back for the next generation of Jackrabbits getting their start in life at State.

Looking for a way to make a big difference for South Dakota State University?

If you are 70½ or older, you may also be interested in a way to lower the income and taxes from your IRA withdrawals. An IRA charitable rollover is a way you can help continue our work and benefit this year.

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