Philanthropist Gives SDSU Largest Donation in School History

Conrad Prebys has given $20 million to fund SDSU scholarships

San Diego State University received the largest single gift in the school’s history, thanks to a man who never actually attended classes there.

Philanthropist Conrad Prebys gave SDSU $20 million, a donation that will create 150 student scholarships every year.

Seeking a way to honor the gift, the school announced Wednesday it will name its new student union the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

Prebys detailed his relationship with the university, which goes back 40 years. The real estate tycoon said he’s rented several apartments in the area, and his office sat within shouting distance of San Diego State for decades.

“I’ve always felt like I was a part of the university and decided to make it formal. It was a long engagement, and we’ve tied the knot,” said Prebys.

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said Prebys’ donation allows the university to cross its $468 million dollar mark as it seeks $500 million for its comprehensive fundraising campaign.

The gift also helps build momentum on the hunt for additional donors.

“We’re building a culture of philanthropy, and a gift of this magnitude really stakes that ground out to say, ‘This is something that’s critical to the future of San Diego State University,’” said Hirshman.

In his field, Prebys said he has seen the type of graduates San Diego State produces, a reason he turned his donation toward helping individual students.

“I knew it was right because I’m still active in business – Progress Management – and I think every one of my people had attended San Diego State,” said Prebys. “Believe me, they all have. So it just was a natural thing.”

The scholarships will be split between students in seven areas: bio-medical research, creative and performing arts, student veterans, entrepreneurship, leadership, the honors program and guardian scholars, who are former foster youth who don’t have families to help them with college costs.

Prebys told NBC 7 when he went to school at Indiana University, anyone could work their way through school, but colleges' rising costs have changed that.

“[The donation] is going to be providing $800,000 worth of scholarships a year in perpetuity. That makes me feel very good because some kids will be able to go to school who just wouldn’t be able to go right now,” said Prebys.

“Right now, I’m sold on San Diego State.”

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