Adams State alumnus gives $5.8 million for science and math scholarships

(05-17-2007)

Largest gift in ASC history

Adams State College alumnus and founder of E*TRADE, William Porter, recently made the largest gift in his alma mater's history, announced Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi.

Porter and his wife, Joan, donated 250,000 shares in E*TRADE Financial Corporation stock to the Adams State College Foundation. Valued at approximately $5.8 million, this gift brings the Foundation's endowment to a total of $14.3 million.

Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi, presents alumnus William Porter with the college's 2005 Billy Adams Award.

Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi (right), presents alumnus William Porter with the college's 2005 Billy Adams Award.

The Porters requested the donation be used to establish an endowment to award science and mathematics scholarships to students who show financial need and academic achievement.

"Mr. Porter succeeded more than he could have imagined. By sharing his rewards, he assures future Adams State students will have the same opportunity," Svaldi said. "We will find a special way to express our appreciation to Mr. Porter and his wife, Joan, for their continuing generosity and support of ASC students."

The Porters' support of science and mathematics scholarships actually benefits all students, Svaldi pointed out, because it frees up resources to provide financial aid in other areas.

ASC Foundation chairperson, Genevieve Cooper, said, "The Adams State community is thrilled with the generosity of Mr. Porter's gift to the Foundation. We look forward to partnering with the faculty in being good stewards of this gift, which can make so much possible for students of the sciences."

William Porter earned a degree in mathematics from Adams State in 1951. He proceeded to establish a career marked by significant innovation, conceiving several new technology- based businesses, including E*TRADE, the first real-time, on-line electronic brokerage service. William Porter is now chairman emeritus of E*TRADE, which he established in 1982, and is the first Chairman of International Securities Exchange (ISE), which he co-founded in 2000.

"Bill is meditative in the technological sense . . . he is remarkable in his ability to look at the commonplace, say, 'That could be done better,' think very deeply, and come up with an idea," Joan Porter has said.

Adams State presented William Porter with its 2005 Billy Adams Award, and awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy at spring Commencement 2000, where he also gave the Commencement address. The college also named its science and mathematics facility Porter Hall upon its completion in 1998. The previous year, William Porter gave the college its largest donation at that time, approximately $4 million worth of E*TRADE stock. The majority of that gift was dedicated to installing Ethernet wiring in the campus residence halls.

Following good advice

When William Porter spoke at the dedication of Porter Hall, tears welled up in his eyes, and he was unable to speak for a moment. He'd come a great distance since working his way through college at the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, yet still recalled the words of his favorite professor, Dr. James Craft: "Learn all you can in everything. You never know when you will need it."

"Dr. Craft was a person I look back on as someone who gave me good steerage. He is the reason the Science, Mathematics, and Technology Building is named Porter Hall," William Porter said in 2005. "I was visiting him in a hospice just before he passed away. He said he'd like to see my name on one of the buildings here."

Additionally, the Porters have given over $650,000 to the ASC Foundation for alumni scholarships and other uses. Some of these funds will be used to renovate the campus president's residence, the Marvel House.

"One of the best ways we can honor the Porters' gift is to continue giving deserving students the chance to change their futures. Our science and mathematics departments already do an incredible job," Svaldi said.

More opportunities for students

Adams State biology majors are accepted into professional programs at an excellent rate: 100 percent for dental school, 97 percent for graduate school, 92 percent for veterinary school, and 78 percent for medical school. Seventy-six percent of mathematics students land jobs immediately following graduation. Now even more students will have a chance to share in that success.

Dr. Brent Ybarrondo, chair of the biology and earth science department, said, "This very generous donation will provide a tremendous opportunity to attract, and provide substantial scholarship support for, a significant number of high achieving students to study science and mathematics at Adams State College on an ongoing basis into the future."

Dr. Matt Nehring, chair of the department of chemistry, computer science, and mathematics, added, "We are excited by Mr. Porter's commitment to science and mathematics here at Adams State College. It is difficult to imagine the possible ways lives will be positively affected by this donation."

A career of innovation

E*TRADE Group, Inc., is the recognized leader in online investing, with a market capitalization of $5.4 billion, more than one million active accounts, and more than 80,000 transactions handled each business day. ISE is a $90 million start-up that is competing with Wall Street's old floor broker system. ISE has become the first fully electronic options exchange in the U.S. and the world's first option marketplace combining electronic trading and auction market principles. William Porter also holds an M.S. in Physics from Kansas State University, and an M.B.A. in Management from the Sloan Fellows program at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has held numerous senior management positions, including Chairman of Trelleborg Rubber Company; President of Tretorn Shoes; President of Commercial Electronics Incorporated, as well as several senior level positions in the science and technology arena.

He has 14 patents to his credit, having developed a number of electronic devices and processes. These include the first shoulder mounted back pack broadcast color TV camera; the first electronic diesel-electric locomotive check-out system; the first infrared horizon sensor for satellite stabilization, and several other breakthroughs still in use today in a variety of fields.

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By Julie Waechter