SAN JOSE — In 1956, when Lupe and Ramiro Compean made their way to San Jose from Texas, the newly married couple arrived with next to nothing.
On Monday, in honor of her late husband, Lupe Diaz Compean, 89, who never attended college, donated $15 million to San Jose State for programs to support student success.
“The gift equals the largest private, individual donation the school has ever received,” said Paul Lanning, SJSU vice president of advancement. “It’s been a very good week already.”
In 2007, the designation of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at SJSU followed a $15 million gift. The bulk of the newest donation — $8 million — “is endowed to fund student success programming,” Lanning said.
“It is aimed at improving graduation rates, remedial programs for incoming students and relieving some challenges in the bottleneck to obtaining a degree,” Lanning said. “Clearly, Mrs. Compean wanted to help students get what she herself was never able to attain.”
Because numerous programs to assist student success are centered in the student union building, SJSU also announced the newly refurbished structure — expanded from 140,000 to 235,000 square feet — will be renamed after the Compeans.
“It may have something to do with my background as a Latino, but when I heard about the gift, I felt pride,” Alberto Gutierrez, a former SJSU student and current lecturer in the department of communication studies, said about the media-shy Compean. “It spoke volumes about someone who wants the best possible opportunities for kids to have an education. A lot of people say they believe education is important, but here is someone who put those words into action.”