“Super Dave” donates to inauguration

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Photo by Peter Burleigh

President Thomas S. Hibbs’ Inauguration was a memorable event for many at the University of Dallas. One of the reasons behind its success was the generosity of various benefactors. 

Hibbs spoke on this generosity as he outlined the search for this support. 

Jason Trujillo, the new Vice President for the Office of University Advancement sought donors “who would be willing to help defray the cost of an inauguration and particularly the banquet that followed,” Hibbs said. 

A number of  donors generously gave $10,000 each, including business leaders with a connection to UD, alumni and members of the Board of Trustees. 

Yet one generous benefactor might be more surprising to students. It was UD’s beloved campus safety officer David “Super Dave” LeMire. 

Hibbs described his own surprise as he tells the remarkable story on how this came about. 

“Jason was discussing this with Super Dave, and Super Dave said ‘I want to donate to that.’” 

Trujillo attempted to dissuade LeMire, saying other benefactors were people “who have had positions with significantly higher income than working security or police department here at UD,” Hibbs recalled.

But LeMire insisted. He has been saving money and saw this as the perfect occasion to use it. 

The inauguration dinner, as described by a student who attended, included friends, family and faculty connected to the event. The dinner also included the announcement of the President Thomas S. Hibbs and Dr. Stacey Hibbs First-Generation Scholarship. 

After thanking all of the donors who made the inauguration dinner possible, Hibbs saved one recognition for last —that of Dave LeMire. 

“It kinda brought down the house … because anybody who knows anything about UD knows him,” Hibbs said. 

LeMire was surprised by the public recognition that Hibbs extended.

“I was totally shocked,” he said, “I was so stunned I just sat in my chair. I didn’t know what to do.” 

LeMire said that the moment was humbling. 

“He made some wonderful comments in front of a lot of important people.” 

The heartfelt public thanks followed a personal expression of gratitude from President Hibbs, LeMire said.

“He knew that I had helped contribute for the inaugural dinner and he had already thanked me … because I got to know him but only since the summer when he got here.” 

LeMire has long been part of the UD community. He was an undergraduate in 1977, but left in 1979. In 1982, he returned he returned to UD to work as a Campus Safety officer. 

“I was just looking for a job … I always enjoyed UD so I wanted to come back and work here,” he said. 

Although LeMire started working in the same month and year that Hibbs began his graduate studies, August 1982, the two never crossed paths before Hibbs returned as UD’s future president.

LeMire sees Hibbs as an important leader at this time in the university’s history and even compared the new president’s arrival at UD to that of the Israelites in the desert coming home. 

“God only made them wait 40 years, their wanderings, before they got to cross the Jordan and go into the promised land,” said LeMire. “They had to wait 40 years. I had to wait 43 … for this man to show up.” 

LeMire believes that the group of people who now run the university are what UD has needed in order to fully succeed. 

According to LeMire, among other things, UD needs a top executive staff, a great board of trustees and the bishop. 

“All three have to be engaged, they have to understand and support the mission … understand the character of a liberal education … they have to care about what they do,” LeMire said. 

Hibbs is not only truly grateful for LeMire’s significant contribution to the inauguration, but he  also sees it as a confirmation that UD is on the right path. 

“It’s also a sign that somebody who’s been here as long as he really thinks that we’re headed in the right direction as a university,” Hibbs said.  

LeMire believes Hibbs is right for the school because he truly understands the mission of UD as the first president who is an alumnus of the school. 

“He understands Shakespeare. He understands Aristotle. I mean, he was a philosophy major!” 

LeMire goes so far as to compare Hibbs to the philosopher king from Plato’s Republic. 

“To find that philosopher king is always the rub … it’s not easy to find people who are really intellectual and also really good leaders. That’s a unique combination, and he’s got it.” 

Hibbs is glad to have such a good friendship with LeMire and repeated LeMire’s favorite thing to say about him: “I’m glad Dr Stacey Hibbs is teaching here and I’m glad she’s a new faculty member and I’m glad she brought her husband with her.” 

LeMire, along with the need for a good executive staff, stresses the need for alumni involvement in general. 

“Because the alums went  to school here, they’ve always cared very passionately about UD.”

Trujillo and Hibbs started at UD within the same month. Since then, they have taken over fundraising for the school, and changes have been made to the method. 

The main focus has been on expanding the multiple ways alumni and benefactors of UD can make donations.

Trujillo outlined the changes as well as the effect of these changes made thus far in alumni donations. 

“One of the biggest changes that we’ve made since the president and I came into office in July is focused on endowed scholarships”  

An endowment scholarship is more of a perpetual gift for the school.

“The basis of an endowment is essentially a pot of money that goes into our endowment, we invest it and then we make distributions,” explained Trujillo. 

Only the endowment distribution is spent, similar to interest from a savings account. Thus the “corpus” or the beginning donation of the endowment remains as the foundation for the scholarship. 

“As you’re spending money, since you your not spending what you earned on it, the endowment is a perpetual thing … that’s why endowments are so powerful, because you never actually spend the corpus… you invest the corpus; you try to grow it by 7 or 8 percent and then you’re only spending something like 5 percent every year” 

In the past four months, Trujillo and Hibbs have added endowment scholarships to many departments of the university as a more personal way for alumni to contribute. Most of the ideas for increasing these donations are from Trujillo’s past experience with University of Virginia, and Hibbs’ experience with fundraising at Baylor University. 

“I’d love to have one for every single department so that no matter what you major in at UD there is a named endowed scholarship for that department, and that graduates of that department can contribute back to that,” said Trujillo. 

A donor can create their own endowment scholarships, yet an alumnus can also donate to existing scholarships in the department from which they graduated. However, a personal scholarship can result in further contributions. 

“I really favor endowed scholarships because it’s a way to keep in touch with somebody and it’s a way to make a real personal interaction with the school and a recipient of you generosity; it’s not anonymous.” 

However, these new endowments do not have immediate results.

“That’s a very long term play,” says Trujillo, “you have to be around for decades to enjoy it, but perpetual institutions should focus on endowment giving.” 

For more immediate aid, Trujillo and Hibbs also implemented the Cor Fund, called for the latin word “cor” meaning “heart,”  as another method of donating. 

“The Cor Fund, you take it in, you spend it” 

“We use all of that money for the students and faculty anyway so it’s almost like giving for endowed scholarships” 

The donations to the Cor Fund are used in student scholarships like the Trustee or the Founders, whereas specifically named scholarships, such as the Dr. Eileen Gregory Scholarship in English, being officially announced on December 5th, 2019. 

To explain the difference between the methods, Trujillo compares it to a normal bank account. 

“An endowment is almost like a savings… and you only spend interest from it whereas the Cor Fund is like a checking account, right, money comes and you write a check.” 

Most of the fundraising for the Cor Fund will happen in February with the Cor Challenge, however, donations to the Cor Fund is available annually. 

Trujillo stressed the availability of donating and the need for alumni donations especially. 

“Participation is really important, particularly by Constantin alums, because undergraduates of UD, that actually goes into US News, the calculation, and if you want to help UD, one of the best things you can do, like, right now is to make a gift to the Cor Fund.” 

Overall, Trujillos agrees with LeMire’s view that Hibbs appointment as president has and will further fundraising. 

“We have raised significantly more than we did last year,” explains Trujillo,  “there is definitely a lot of enthusiasm for the president; that always helps.” 

He also agrees with the significance of LeMire’s donation. 

“Super Dave is incredibly magnanimous and generous; contributed to Dr. Hibbs’ inauguration day, I think, because he really believes in the future flourishing of UD.” 

Trujilo encourages anyone who can to donate to the Cor Fund or an existing endowment scholarship, stressing the fact that even $5 or $10 dollars from 100 people can make a huge difference.

Writers Fiona Mitchell and Kate Vicknair collaborated to produce this article

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