San Jose State University has announced a $15 million commitment from Lupe Diaz Compean to create endowments for student success initiatives, scholarships, and student union activities.
The gift from Compean will establish an $8 million Student Success Fund aimed at fostering student success and boosting retention and graduation rates; scholarship funds of $1 million each for former foster youth, California Dream Act students, and high-performing students; a $2 million Student Union Programming Fund to pay for visiting lectures, art exhibits, workshops, and other student-focused events and programming; and a $2 million Student Union Operating Fund for the ongoing maintenance and operating needs of the facility.
In recognition of the gift, which equals the largest individual gift in the university's history, the newly expanded student union building will be named for Compean and her husband, Ramiro, who died in 2002.
Born Lupe Diaz in Edinburgh, Texas, Compean moved to San Jose in 1956 with her husband, who worked in the construction business. The couple eventually began buying properties in the area, and, at age 89, Compean still actively manages those she owns. While she herself did not attend college, Compean first approached SJSU in the 1990s about making a gift, having heard that the university had a good Mexican American Studies Department.
"[The Student Success Fund] is aimed at improving graduation rates, remedial programs for incoming students, and relieving some challenges in the bottleneck to obtaining a degree," said Paul Lanning, SJSU vice president of advancement. "Clearly, Mrs. Compean wanted to help students get what she herself was never able to attain....She is a great, living example for students, showing how you can persevere, through hard work and diligence and the management of resources over time to build and succeed against all costs."