On July 21, three universities gathered at Dolese Bros. Co. headquarters in Oklahoma City to celebrate a decade of advancing engineering education together.
When Dolese – Oklahoma’s largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, crushed stone, gravel and sand – was looking to give back to the communities it served, it focused on higher education.
Carrying out the philanthropic vision of Roger Dolese, the private company decided to donate all of its non-voting stock to the university foundations at Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. Given it was profitable, Dolese would then buy back stock each year.
The gift was rolled out privately in 2010 before being publicly announced in 2013. The three portions of stock were originally valued at roughly $70 million each and were made with one goal in mind – to increase the amount of engineering graduates at these institutions.
Since then, the three universities have done their part to make that ambition a reality.
“Our mission to improve communities has its roots in the legacy of Roger Dolese,” said Mark Helm, president and CEO of Dolese Bros Co. “Through this gift, we’ve not only been able to create a bright future for numerous engineering students, but also ensure our company remains true to our community and gives back to each Dolese employee for their service to the company.”
At Kansas State University, the Dolese gift has enhanced student recruitment and retention efforts in many ways for the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering. The 2022 incoming class was 15% larger than the previous two years, thanks in part to the increase in scholarships awarded. Outreach efforts through on- and off-campus activities have helped grow and diversify the student body.
K-State’s College of Engineering has increased the annual number of graduates by more than 100 since receiving the Dolese gift, and the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate has increased by 12.8% since 2012. This growth is due in part to programs such as Scholars Assisting Scholars tutoring, Women in Engineering mentoring and first-year instruction programs, all supported with Dolese funds.
“The Dolese funds have allowed our Carl R. Ice College of Engineering to continue to focus on what matters most to us: our students,” K-State President Richard Linton said. “Through increased recruiting opportunities and expanded support programs sustained by these funds, our engineering program is prepared to offer students the high-caliber experience worthy of today’s and tomorrow’s innovators.
At Oklahoma State University, every dollar of Dolese funds has directly benefited students, including the $1.3 million of stock that was bought back by the company in 2022. Scholarship support made possible by the Dolese gift has been a driving force behind helping more people attend OSU and ultimately walk across the graduation stage.
Since 2012, the number of undergraduate engineering degrees awarded each year has more than doubled. During that time, degree production for mechanical and aerospace engineering has increased 151%, a figure exponentially higher than the university average of 28.6%.
Industrial engineering as well as electrical and computer engineering have also seen huge boosts in degree production with 207% and 84% increases, respectively.
The Dolese gift has made an impact at OSU in many other ways as well, including funding discussion and tutoring sessions, College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology preparatory programs, K-12 summer camps and student work at the Bert Cooper Structures and Materials Lab, which fittingly focuses on concrete research.
“Our engineering programs have grown at a remarkable rate over the past decade,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “These peaks would not have been achievable without Dolese’s aid, which has funded so many scholarships and other life-changing programs for our students.”
At the University of Oklahoma, Dolese’s support of the Gallogly College of Engineering helps faculty and staff better support and better prepare our students for their futures as engineers.
Dolese’s support helps fund a number of student-focused initiatives, helping to nearly double the number of OU engineering graduates. The majority of Dolese’s support directly impacts students with financial need via student scholarships, teaching assistant stipends, and undergraduate research fellowships. Support for programs such as Engineering Pathways, Summer Bridge, and Outreach and Recruiting, and support for experiential learning facilities, such as the Rawl Engineering Practice Facility and the iHUB, help ensure OU engineering will continue to graduate well-prepared engineers.
“Dolese’s partnership has been absolutely critical in our work to expand the pipeline of talented, career-ready engineers who leave our campuses and grow Oklahoma’s workforce,” OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. said. “Dolese’s generosity empowers students to learn without financial stresses, fuels remarkable research, and opens doors of curiosity and inquiry for students of all lived experiences.”
All three universities expect their engineering programs to continue to grow. With the gift agreement expected to last in perpetuity, the Dolese effect will continue to impact lives for years to come.