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Dave '75 and Sally Hopkins

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A Teamwork Approach to Family Philanthropy
June 2015

Taking advantage of the guidance offered through the Annie Clarkson Society, Dave’75 and Sally Hopkins recently funded an endowed scholarship to help ensure the Clarkson experience for students pursuing careers in civil engineering. Now they have also created a bequest that will someday be added to the endowment. Not only did they receive tax benefits, but their gifts counted in Clarkson’s fundraising campaign and in Dave’s 40th reunion. Gift planner Bob Ahlfeld spoke with Dave and Sally about what inspired them to create this gift at Clarkson.

How long have you been considering this gift?

The idea was conceived in 2009 as my 30-plus year career with Shell Oil Company came to a close. It was an appropriate time to revisit our estate plan to see how we could more effectively distribute our estate and put our assets to work long beyond our lifetimes. From early childhood, our parents instilled in us the value of a good education.  Both sets of parents made many sacrifices throughout their lives so that we would have the opportunity for a good education in the field of our desire, an opportunity they did not have.  As true believers in the benefits of education, we looked for opportunities to invest in education and locate deserving individuals that might not have the opportunity to obtain a degree without some assistance. With that thought in mind, we investigated how we might expand our investment in education utilizing organizations where we have established connections and confidence that the assets would be prudently managed and dispersed. Our alma maters seemed to be ideal candidates to carry out our wishes.

What motivated you and Sally to make this gift?

While our accumulated assets are intended to support us during our retirement years, successful careers and planning have provided what is intended to be excess funds at our passing. The education and experiences we received at our alma maters provided significant building blocks that helped us achieve many successes during our careers and life.

As we look back, we have become strong advocates of the education process and how it can be a powerful tool for those that desire to succeed.  While success looks different to each of us, education often provides opportunities for us that would not exist if we had not had the opportunity to obtain a higher education.  We are thankful for those educational opportunities and the opportunities that exist in a powerful field such as engineering. We hope to “pay it forward” and help deserving individuals experience their own successes and expand their potential for contributing to our ever evolving world.

What do you hope to accomplish with your gift?

Our bequest provides the opportunity to significantly expand student financial support associated with our existing scholarship endowment.  We hope that someday our scholarship will fully fund the annual tuition for a deserving engineering student that otherwise would not have the opportunity.

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to meet a number of new engineering graduates and have been very impressed with their breadth of professional knowledge and skills as they enter the workforce. We are very encouraged by what we see in the young professionals and would like to be part of making that happen for someone.  As an added bonus, we hope to have the opportunity to meet and interface with scholarship recipients during their time at school and as they enter the work force.

What has it meant to have a Clarkson degree?

Attending Clarkson was more than obtaining a degree. My four years at Clarkson are very much a part of who I am today.  The experience not only provided me with a solid education, it helped me to grow as a person, provided numerous lifelong friendships & connections and helped prepare me to enter a competitive work environment where I could survive and thrive.

More specific to my degree and career path, I would say that obtaining an engineering degree opened corporate doors and afforded me the opportunity to successfully secure an engineering position with a prominent company. In support of my entering the work force, obtaining a degree provided a strong engineering foundation, expanded my problem solving and leadership skills and generally helped me become a more well-rounded individual.

I am pleased with who I have become and with both my working career and personal life accomplishments. I’ve had the opportunity to progress further in my career and to do things I’d never dreamed I’d be able to do as a child or as new engineering graduate.  For example, I had the opportunity to live in Mexico for three years and build a green field site chemical plant, to have a major role in building a multi -billion dollar refinery expansion, and to travel and experience the world. Clarkson provided numerous building blocks along the pathway that I have traveled and I am proud to be a Clarkson graduate.