Fueling dreams

Olsons help make college a reality for students with financial need

A new endowment established by Dale C. Olson and his wife Marceline Dandurand Olson, who died in 2012, will provide scholarships for around 32 students each year in Kansas State University’s College of Engineering.

Each recipient of the Dale C. and Marceline L. Dandurand Olson Engineering Scholarship will receive about $5,000. The scholarships will have an emphasis on helping mechanical engineering students and students from Saline County, where the Olsons both attended high school.

Following Marceline Olson’s death, Dale Olson, Midland, Texas, continued working with staff at the Kansas State University Foundation to finalize the endowment provided earlier in the couple’s individual wills. He used a combination of current gifts, estate planning and matching funds from ConocoPhillips, where he retired in 1988 as one of four senior engineering professionals. The Olsons contributed a majority of their estate — an undisclosed public amount — to higher education, divided between Kansas State University and Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina.

The Olsons were both raised in the Salina area, and Dale Olson graduated from Kansas State University in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a petroleum option. Following graduation, Olson’s nearly 50-year career in the engineering field took the couple around the United States, Canada and the world. He credits much of his financial success to support from Marceline, his wife of 61 years.

Olson is a member of Pi Tau Sigma and Sigma Tau engineering honor societies. He also is a member of the KSU Foundation’s President’s Club, a philanthropic leadership organization for friends and alumni of the university, and the Land Grant Legacy Society, an organization for those who have included the university in their estate plans.

Raised during the Great Depression, Olson earned his degree with tuition assistance through the GI Bill after serving with the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. Now Olson hopes to extend similar help to those who need it.

The Olsons placed high value on education, and always felt compelled to help make college a reality for students with financial need.

“A college degree might not make you smarter than anybody else but it gets your foot in the door,” Olson said. “Then it’s going to depend on ability to a degree, but it’s a shame if people have the ability but can’t get their foot in the door because they don’t have a degree. Maybe this will help.”

Dale Olson hopes that recipients will be encouraged to give back as well, either to the Olson fund or by establishing their own scholarship fund.

The Olson engineering scholarship is an example of the kind of critical support needed to further the goals of Kansas State University and the College of Engineering, said Gary Clark, interim dean of the College of Engineering.

“Generous support like the Olson engineering scholarship is absolutely key to the success of the university, this college and its students,” Clark said. “We could not be more grateful that the Olsons had the vision and heart to make such a significant difference for our deserving students and for the future of the engineering profession.”


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