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Former, current Dofflemyer scholars honor benefactor
STANFORD -- Fifty years ago, a young soldier and recent Stanford University alumnus received his travel orders: He was to join the American effort in the European theater as World War II was coming to a bloody climax.
Robert Dofflemyer, who received his bachelor's degree in economics in 1941, felt he might have been handed a "one-way ticket" to the Battle of the Bulge.
"It was not long [after graduation] that I was faced with the reality of taking a trip to Europe, with the thought that this might be a one-way ticket, and this caused me a little concern," Dofflemyer said.
"Just before shipping out from the states, I talked to my parents about it, and convinced them that if I did not return, that they should establish a scholarship in my name at Stanford," Dofflemyer said.
Off to war he went. And back he came - to find that at Stanford there existed the Robert Todd Dofflemyer Scholarship, with preference given to young men who had attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest given by the Boy Scouts of America, an organization with which both Dofflemyer and his father were closely involved.
"It was a little embarrassing, of course," he said Friday, May 20, at a luncheon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the scholarship, "and I felt this situation had to be remedied, for two reasons.
"Number one, I did return, unscathed, and the second reason was that I never got beyond the rank of Star scout."
In 1951, the scholarship was re-named the Dofflemyer Scholarship, and since World War II, nearly 300 Stanford students have had Bob Dofflemyer and his family to thank for their education.
Thanking their benefactor was something many of them had been unable to do in person until the 50th anniversary luncheon at the Faculty Club, which attracted about 80 Dofflemyer Scholars and their guests.
The program is still going strong, with a dozen current students' tuition being paid in part or full by what Linda Collier of the Office of Development called one of the university's "Top 10" scholarships - both in terms of amount and longevity.
The scholarship money comes from an endowment now worth about $2 million - thanks to what Dofflemyer called "the magic of compound interest and good management by Stanford."
Dofflemyer, who came to the luncheon with his wife, Margaret, and daughter, Ginny, a professor at the California School of the Arts and Crafts in Oakland, is a well known Stanford alumnus. He was senior football manager of the undefeated 1940 "Wow Boys" Cardinal team and also was president of Alpha Kappa Lambda.
Father established scholarship
When he went off to serve in the U.S. Army, his father, Todd Dofflemyer, of Exeter, Calif., a citrus and grape rancher and University of California-Berkeley graduate, wrote to Stanford:
"My son Robert, a graduate of Stanford University in 1941 with an AB in economics, prior to his departure for the fighting front, expressed a desire to create a scholarship fund for Stanford University."
The document establishing the scholarship states that "selection of recipients shall be based on need, character, determination and integrity" and that "preference and priority shall be given to qualified applicants, residents of the state of California, who are holders of the Eagle Scout rank of the Boy Scouts of America."
After Robert Dofflemyer returned from Europe, he changed the name of the scholarship to honor his family instead of himself; in 1965, the family extended eligibility to include residents of the entire 12th Scouting Region, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Hawaii and part of Wyoming.
Todd and Josephine Dofflemyer continued to make contributions to fund until their deaths - he in 1966, she in 1985. Robert Dofflemyer recently agreed to extend the fund to applicants beyond the Boy Scouts' 12th Region, making it available to all students.
To honor Dofflemyer, the Office of Development contacted the 245 former and current Dofflemyer Scholars they were able to locate, and asked them to write something about their lives since graduation. Nearly all responded, and the resulting collection was presented to Robert Dofflemyer at the luncheon by David Mitchell, a 1957 graduate in history who is currently volunteer Major Gift Regional Chair for San Jose with Stanford's Office of Development.
Mitchell read aloud some of the testimonials included in the book, including this excerpt from Gregory Ray, who received a bachelor's degree in economics in 1982 and a master's the following year in industrial engineering:
"The Dofflemyer Scholarship was essential to my being able to study at Stanford," wrote Ray, who was unable to attend the luncheon. "I think that my career commitment to recycling makes a real difference in protecting human health and the environment. I know that the Dofflemyer Scholarship contributed to my success and deserves recognition and appreciation."
Former scholars came from all over the country for the reunion luncheon. Peter McCuen, a former Dofflemyer Scholar (B.S. 1956, M.S. 1957, Ph.D. 1962, mechanical engineering) who is now Major Gift Regional Chair for Sacramento, acted as master of ceremonies and flew in from a business trip to Oslo, Norway, a day early for the luncheon.
"I wouldn't have missed this for the world," he said.
Scott Tanner, a 1982 graduate in economics, said the Dofflemyer Scholarship made "all the difference" in his academic life.
"I don't know what I would have done without it," Tanner said. "I didn't even know it - or he - existed until after I found out I qualified for help through the fund."
Current junior Daniel Gilley, electrical engineering, said: "I found out about [the scholarship] after I was accepted. It's really exciting that there are these kinds of scholarships at Stanford, ones that most people probably don't know about.
"It was really good to be able to come out here and meet him," Gilley said after greeting Dofflemyer. "Stanford gave me some information and told me the story behind him, but to meet and thank him in person, that was really something."
After the presentation, Dofflemyer urged those who studied under his name to contribute to the fund, noting that:
"Times have changed - the Boy Scout movement is under attack, the program at Stanford is under attack and being criticized, and the university itself has problems. For instance, only 23 percent of the alumni of Stanford support Stanford.
"One of the reasons is that the majority of alumni do not approve of the direction Stanford is going," Dofflemyer said. "It is imperative that this be changed; Stanford has to turn once again to the direction of the founders of the University. . . . A house divided cannot stand alone."
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