Story by Katie Brayden
The generosity of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., was bigger than football. It was bigger than the Buffalo Bills, the National Football League team he founded and owned for 54 years. His tenure there, third longest in NFL owner history, earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And it was bigger than the millions of fans who considered him a beloved member of the Buffalo, New York, faithful.
After his passing at the age of 95, Wilson made his final statement of generosity by taking $1.2 billion in proceeds from the sale of the Buffalo Bills to create the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and now that foundation has made a generous donation to the Construction Management Program at CSU.
“It has been a truly humbling experience to be able to carry out Ralph’s wishes and legacy by serving the causes and people that he cared so deeply about,” said Mary M. Wilson, Wilson’s wife.
Wilson owned, invested in and sold many businesses throughout his long and decorated life. At the time of his passing, one company he owned was Interstate Highway Construction, Inc. a full-service heavy highway contractor based in Colorado. His father, Ralph C. Wilson, Sr., was one of the company’s original investors over 60 years ago.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better owner,” says John Edwards, vice president for business development at IHC.
“We enjoy big company opportunities with a small company feel,” explains Jim Randall, president and chief operating officer at IHC and 1992 graduate of Colorado State University’s Department of Construction Management. IHC currently employs nearly a dozen CSU graduates and interns, and states that its greatest pride is the longevity of its workforce.
With the help of IHC’s strong advocacy and championing of the construction management program at Colorado State, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has awarded CSU a transformative donation to support two of the program’s main pillars: student service-learning and intercollegiate construction management competition team development. The funding has been put to immediate use.
CM Cares, the department’s award-winning service learning program, brings students, industry and community members together to complete construction projects for those in need. Projects range from building wheelchair ramps for returning veterans to creating ADA-accessible bedrooms and bathrooms. The program is funded entirely by industry sponsorships and private funding. To date, CM Cares has completed over 20 projects.
“CM Cares aims to create well-rounded, self-motivated individuals with a passion for service,” explains Mostafa Khattab, head of the Department of Construction Management.
Another foundational element of the construction management program at CSU is the tradition of competition teams. The hallways of Guggenheim Hall and the Pre-Construction Center are adorned with years of trophies brought home from annual competitions. This year was no exception. Sponsored by industry, students compete in teams against other universities to solve real-life construction problems. In 2016, of the 11 teams that were sent, 9 placed and two earned outstanding presenter awards.
“The contributions of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation with the assistance of Interstate Highway Construction has given our Department of Construction Management the ability to enhance the student experience in tremendous ways beyond the classroom,” says Jeff McCubbin, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at CSU, where the Department of Construction Management resides. “Gifts like these allow us to be exceptional, and we are grateful to be a place worthy of carrying out Ralph’s incredible legacy.”
Through Wilson’s legacy, the Department of Construction Management will continue to reflect his passion for people and commitment to bettering the community.
For more information about making a contribution to the department, visit https://advancing.colostate.edu/CM.