As the 200th anniversary of the founding of Rensselaer approaches in 2024, the capital campaign—Transformative: Campaign for Global Change—will secure the future of Rensselaer and enable exceptional students to pursue their passions, realize their dreams, and change the world for generations to come. For Don Weimer ’74, a commitment to student support was inspired years ago by the generosity that enabled him to pursue a degree at Rensselaer and by the quality of the education he received.
Intent on studying electrical engineering, Weimer quickly realized that many of his classmates were far more advanced in the subject than he was. “I went from being one of the smartest kids in my high school who never needed to develop study habits, to one of many in a much more demanding academic environment.” When his grades slipped during his freshman year, he discovered that his scholarship funding had been reduced as well—a sore point that would later influence his approach to giving.
As luck would have it, his freshman roommate got him hooked on computers. He convinced Weimer to join the Association for Computing Machinery student chapter, which gave members free accounts to use the school’s first computer, an IBM System/360.
“That’s where I learned to program. For the next three years, you could find me hanging out in the computer lab in the basement of Amos Eaton Hall,” he says.
In his senior year, Weimer found himself being recruited by the data systems division of Grumman Aerospace. He would spend the next 22 years working at Grumman, ending up as a systems programmer for the company’s IBM mainframe computer before taking a position with Arrow Electronics.
Early in his career, Weimer decided to give back to Rensselaer. “I received a great education,” he says. “RPI taught me how to think logically and solve problems. Those skills have served me well throughout my career.”
In 1982, Weimer made his first gift to Rensselaer, donating 2 percent of his salary. In 1991, he met with a group of Rensselaer advancement officers, who explained that, since he was already giving every year, he could create a scholarship. “I wanted something permanent, and thus my endowed scholarship was born,” he says. The Donald E. Weimer ’74 2 Percent Scholarship gives priority to students who run into financial hardship after their first year. To date, 28 students have benefited from his generosity, and he intends to do more.
“I am financially able to give back,” he says. “It’s the right thing to do. It is my intention to donate the bulk of my estate to my scholarship fund, at which point the scholarship should be a full ride.”
“Don’s 2 percent approach and his commitment to scholarship are unique and inspiring. We thank him for his impact on Rensselaer and today’s students,” says Graig Eastin, vice president for institute advancement.
To learn more about offering support, visit giving.rpi.edu, alumni.rpi.edu, or contact the Alumni Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 276-6205.