The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology received a $1.5 million gift to endow scholarships from longtime orchardists, philanthropists and Fresno State alumni Rodger and Margaret Jensen.
The Jensens’ gift will benefit students of the Jordan College who are majoring in Agricultural Business or Plant Science. The endowment is expected to cover in-state tuition for seven recipients each academic year in perpetuity. Recipients will be known as Jensen Scholars.
Fresno State’s full-time undergraduate in-state tuition is approximately $6,000 per year.
“The impact of this gift will be nothing short of extraordinary,” explained Dr. Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College. “This scholarship is life-changing for students who may not otherwise be able to achieve their dreams of higher education.”
Rodger and Margaret Jensen’s agricultural roots run deep in the Central Valley and the couple have a long history of philanthropy.
Margaret Jensen’s parents were pioneers in the development of the San Joaquin Valley’s fig industry in what is now the Fig Garden area of Fresno.
In hopes of helping to preserve the river bottom, the Jensens donated land to the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust to restore and connect the area between Woodward Park and the river. Margaret Jensen was honored with a Common Threads award from the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Fresno State’s Jordan College and Ag One in 2004.
A decorated Air Force veteran, 1st Lt. Rodger Jensen was a B-29 pilot during World War II. His aircraft “Horrible Monster” completed the final combat mission of the war. His heroism was documented in the book “The Last Mission” by Jim Smith and Malcolm McConnell, which inspired a History Channel documentary.
After the war, Rodger Jensen returned to Fresno, where he purchased low-value dryland farm ground. In 1950 he established S & J Ranch, a farm management company. During his presidency, S & J was one of the largest tree crop farmers in California, largest olive producer and the largest independent almond and pistachio processor.
Rodger Jensen was the founder and first president of the Pistachio Association. In addition to managing extensive citrus groves, S & J Ranch also managed three citrus packing plants and two nut processing facilities under Jensen’s leadership.
S & J is now owned by Paramount Citrus. Jensen continues to farm citrus and pistachios under his company name, Jenco Farms.
Rodger Jensen has served on the Fresno State Board of Governors and on boards of the Fresno Historical Society, California and Fresno Chambers of Commerce, North Fresno Rotary and Children’s Hospital of Central California. He has been an industry advisor to the Jordan College and the Craig School of Business at Fresno State.
The Jensens’ philanthropy has benefited the agriculture industry, higher education and the entire San Joaquin Valley. Founding members of Ag One at Fresno State, their generosity extends to numerous local organizations including Children’s Hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center, Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust and more.
The Jensens met while attending Fresno State and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Dec. 28, 2011. In 2009 the Jensens were awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees by the California State University trustees, in recognition of their professional accomplishments and service to the community. The degrees were awarded during Fresno State’s 2009 commencement.
For more information, contact Kathleen Schock, the Campaign communications director, at 559.278.2756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.