UND Aerospace receives $2 million in donations for scholarships

David Dodds
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

DEVILS LAKE - An immediate gift of $1 million and a $1 million estate gift – which includes an up-front check for $25,000 – will benefit students far into the future, UND Aerospace Foundation officials say

Two separate million-dollar gifts will help pay for scholarships for generations of UND aviation students, the UND Aerospace Foundation and John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences announced Thursday.

And while that’s exceptional in itself, here’s another aspect of the gifts that makes them truly stand out:

“What makes these scholarships so special is that they come from non-UND alums,” said Larry Martin, board president of the UND Aerospace Foundation.

“These are people who are friends of UND, who are friends of the Odegard School, who are friends of UND Aerospace – and who have been so inspired and so impressed with the School that they have shared their generosity with our students and prospective students. … We thank them so very much.”

Full rides

The first gift was given by Seymour “Si” Robin, the longtime UND benefactor for whom Robin Hall at the Aerospace School is named. The $1 million gift will generate what is essentially a full-ride scholarship, renewable for four years, for seven aviation students over a 10-year period, officials at the Odegard School say.

“I'm really honored to be here today,” said Robin, speaking in front of the Legacy Wall of benefactors in Robin Hall that bears his photo and that of his late wife, Betty.

“I'm especially honored because of all these other people who are here on the wall, too. (Venture capitalist) James Ray, (Aviation Partners Chairman and CEO) Joe Clark, we were all good friends. And all of us hoped that the aviation program would be around for a long, long time.”

His latest gift will help make sure that happens, Robin said. “Plus, there'll be many, many students who will benefit now.”

Caught by surprise

The second gift is from Scott W. Patterson, longtime Learjet pilot for Clay Lacy, another UND benefactor and member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Patterson’s gift begins with a $25,000 endowment and turns into an estate planning gift with a value of $1 million.

“You know, Scott Patterson has been the pilot of Clay’s Learjet a half-dozen times, when Clay has come to Grand Forks,” Martin said.

“At our June meeting, at dinner, Scott came up to me and said, ‘Larry, I’d like to do something for UND. I really admire the place. Who should I talk to?’ “

Martin pointed Patterson toward the Aerospace Foundation’s team, thought “Well, that’s great! Thank you, Scott,” and went about hosting the dinner.

“I didn’t realize he had a million dollars in mind,” Martin said, in announcing the gift Thursday. “That kind of caught me by surprise.”

Said Patterson, “Larry said it right: Just coming to UND is really inspiring. I’ve observed the aviation program over the last several years, and it has inspired me to give back to aviation what aviation has given to me. …

“In desiring to support the ongoing growth of the University of North Dakota’s aviation-related programs, it is my privilege to establish the Scott W. Patterson Aviation Endowment with this check,” Patterson continued.

Heartfelt appreciation

The generosity of Robin and Patterson is a tribute to them, and to the Odegard School’s long history of focusing on students, said Robert Kraus, dean of the school.

And as a result, “it’s those students who are really going to benefit,” he said. “We’re so grateful to our donors for all that they’ve done and all that they continue to do to support the Odegard School and UND.”

UND President Andy Armacost agreed. “These gifts will create opportunities for our students to do remarkable things, and to make sure that the Odegard School continues to transform the lives of its students,” Armacost said.

Plus, the nature of the gifts will make sure those benefits keep helping UND students in perpetuity – in other words, forever. “So congratulations to all, and our heartfelt appreciation to these two extraordinarily important donors,” Armacost said.