Campus: San Jose -- March 8, 2007

San Jose State Receives $15 Million Gift for College of Engineering
Silicon Valley home builder gives largest gift in university’s 150-year history

SAN JOSE, Calif., -- San José State University has received the largest private individual gift in its 150-year history — $15 million for the College of Engineering from successful Bay Area real estate developer Charles W. Davidson, announced university President Don W. Kassing today. The gift will name the College of Engineering and support key strategic initiatives of the college. Davidson is a 1957 graduate of the college’s civil engineering program.

This gift also ties for the largest individual donation ever received by the California State University system.

"Chuck Davidson is a distinguished, long-time supporter of San José State who truly cares about the quality of life for our students and the people of this valley," said Kassing. "Chuck lives by the Golden Rule. His life consistently personifies the core values that he holds most dear: family, education and hard work. With this gift, Chuck has raised the bar of philanthropy at SJSU. He is taking us toward a new level in fulfilling the university's mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service."

The $15 million gift for the College of Engineering will be used to create endowments to support initiatives and programs in the areas of student and faculty development, leading-edge engineering, innovation and globalization. SJSU will request to officially name the college – the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering – at the California State University Board of Trustees meeting in March.

"Engineering education has driven the success of Silicon Valley, and San José State University has been at the center of this success," said Belle Wei, dean of the College of Engineering. "Chuck Davidson believes in the college’s mission to enable diverse and promising students to receive a quality, holistic engineering education. His gift will transform the college and help us achieve a new level of excellence in preparing our students to thrive in today’s dynamic and competitive world."

Home building began as a sideline for Davidson, who in 1960 at age 29 was running his own consulting engineering company business in San José. Ultimately, he developed a number of local homebuilding businesses, which earned his reputation as one of the most respected and successful real estate developers in Silicon Valley. These businesses, still active, include: DKB Homes, at one time one of the largest residential real estate developers in the Bay Area; L&D Construction; DKD Property Management; and the Charles W. Davidson Co., Consulting Civil Engineers, where he currently serves full time as president.

A vital contributor to the Bay Area economy, Davidson is a role model for giving back to the community. By the 1980s, he had become the largest independent builder of subsidized housing in Northern California. According to Davidson, his proudest achievement was building 5,000 subsidized housing units at a time when it was not popular to do so.

In 1992, Davidson established a foundation that supports the arts, higher education and human services organizations, particularly the San Juan Bautista Child Development Center, the YWCA of Silicon Valley and San José State University.

Davidson has a long history of engagement with San José State. He currently serves as the first chair of the university’s Tower Foundation. In 2004, the university awarded him its highest honor – the Tower Award. In 1991, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the College of Engineering.

Route to success
Born and raised in Oklahoma farm and cattle country, Davidson served for three years in the United States Air Force. Later, after moving west, he worked as an engineer for the state highway department, and spent some time as a switchman for the Southern Pacific Railroad. While pursuing his degree at SJSU, Davidson took classes during the day and worked nights in the city’s railroad yard. In conjunction with his civil engineering company, he has been a land-use lobbyist on re-zoning issues, and in 1953, a surveyor involved with the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.

The College of Engineering at San José State University, the number one provider of engineers to Silicon Valley companies, has more than 5,000 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The college offers engineering degrees in aerospace, chemical, computer, electrical, general, materials, mechanical, civil and environmental, industrial and systems, and aviation and technology. SJSU’s engineering program was ranked 12th nationally among master’s-level programs in the most recent edition of "America’s Best Colleges," which is published annually by U.S. News & World Report.

Contact: Nancy L. Stake or Pat Lopes Harris at 408-924-1166

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