CSU giant Walter Scott, Jr. awarded 2018 Founders Day Medal

state your purposeWhile snowy weather prevented the guest of honor from attending CSU’s annual 1870 Dinner, Walter Scott, Jr. was still celebrated as one of the University’s giants.

Scott, who graduated from CSU in 1953 with a degree in engineering, was given the 2018 Founders Day Medal in absentia Saturday night. The Founders Day Medal, first awarded in 2010, honors CSU’s very best of the best for their contributions to the University and the world.

The celebration goes on

Scott and several family members had planned to attend the ceremony at the Lory Student Center ballroom, but the bad weather that hit the region earlier in the day made travel too risky. Instead, the crowd at 1870 Dinner – an event honoring nearly 700 of CSU’s top donors – celebrated Scott’s impact without him. Stories about amazing students – many of them boosted by Scott’s generosity – were a big part of the evening.

Founders Day Medal
CSU President Tony Frank brought Walter Scott Scholar Juan Venegas on stage to accept the Founders Day Medal on behalf of Walter Scott.

“Walter Scott, Jr. graduated from Colorado State University more than 60 years ago with a degree in civil engineering, and in the intervening years he built an extraordinary life and career through his leadership of Peter Kiewit and Sons and then Level 3 Communications,” CSU President Tony Frank said. “His leadership in the philanthropic realm also broke new ground, as he guided the transformation of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium into one of the finest in the world, and invested strategically in causes to advance youth development, medical research, museums and higher education.”

Transformational gift

His greatest gift to CSU came in 2016, when he donated $53.3 million to support infrastructure, faculty chairs and student scholarships. As a result, the college he loves now bears his name: The Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.

“This former Eagle Scout, this Air Force second lieutenant, this giant of industry, once dreamed of being a rancher,” Frank said. “He came to CSU with that as his dream, and he saw his dreams take on a new shape and direction while a student here. Today, he is giving shape and direction to the dreams of countless other young people, and he has ensured that this university will continue to be able to offer one of the nation’s finest engineering programs for generations to come.”

Student impact

Frank then welcomed 45 engineering students – Walter Scott Scholars – to the stage to celebrate the moment. He presented the Founders Day medal to Juan Venegas, one of the original Walter Scott, Jr. Scholars.

Walter Scott Scholars
More than 40 Walter Scott Scholars took the stage Saturday night at the 1870 Dinner.

Scott enjoyed a long career with contracting giant Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc. Scott’s long history of support to the University has significantly impacted student experiences, programs, research and infrastructure. With his late wife, Suzanne, he provided a leadership gift for the Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Bioengineering Building, completed in 2015. It is home to more than 30 faculty and 120 graduate students conducting research on global challenges related to water, energy, health and the environment.

Scott’s passion for young people was demonstrated with his transformational 2016 gift. By significantly expanding a previous gift – he prefers the term “investment” – that established the Walter Scott, Jr. Scholarship Program, he provided renewable merit scholarships for up to 80 undergraduates, and fellowships for up to 30 graduate students with outstanding academic qualifications.

A ‘who’s who’ for CSU

Read about other Founders Day Medal recipients.

Previous winners of the Founders Day Medal included the Monfort family (2010); Peace Corps visionary Maury Albertson (2011); philanthropist Pat Stryker (2012); former CSU President Bill Morgan and wife Lilla; longtime professor and supporter Tom and Jean Sutherland; decades-long supporters Bob and Joyce Everett (2015); veterinary oncology pioneer Dr. Stephen Withrow (2016); and athletic star and Tuskegee Airman John Mosley (2017).