Tech program receives $6 million

By Tanika Ely

University alumni Leonard C. and Mary Lou Hoeft of Minneapolis, Minn., gave their last portion of a $6 million gift as a permanent endowment for the University Hoeft Technology and Management Program (T & M) in January, said John Clarke, executive director of the T & M program.

The T & M program is designed to help students in business understand engineering and engineering students understand business. They take classes in their own majors and combined classes with both majors. They also work on group projects, Clarke said. He said he believes it is the only one of its kind in the nation and that students enrolled in it will get real world experience and acquire new skills they can use later in life.

Clarke said the program does not receive state funding, instead supported by other sources such as the endowment and nine corporate partners. Charging T & M students a small tuition fee is also being considered but would only constitute a small portion of the program’s income, he said.

“It (the endowment) gives financial security to the program,” Clarke said.

According to the University Web site, Hoeft came to the University in 1941. He left to serve in the Army during World War II and took engineering classes at an Army Training program at the College of William and Mary. He returned to the University after serving and graduated with a degree in Business in 1947.

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When Hoeft found out about the integrative program when it began 10 years ago, he donated $1 million to cover some of its costs. Clarke said Hoeft felt his experience in engineering and business during his college career helped him when he entered the work force and believed the program would be beneficial for University students.

Pete Mockaitis, junior in business, said the program allows him to work with extraordinary students from both engineering and business.

“It’s also a great chance to get to know some of the faculty,” he said.

Mockaitis said one of the benefits of the program is the small class size.

“In a lecture of 400 people, forming relationships with the faculty and classmates are less likely,” he said.

Seeing and working with familiar people on a regular basis enables students to develop friendships, Mockaitis said.

“Most people don’t get that kind of an experience,” he said. “I think that’s what really makes it unique.”

Conall Dempsey, senior in engineering, said he decided to join the program because he wanted to learn about business. He said he believes the gift is important to current and future T & M students.

“(Leonard Hoeft) is giving back and giving us more opportunities,” he said.