Mrs. Dee Jordan, who, along with her husband and brother-in-law, was responsible for the largest cash gift in Fresno State’s history, passed away on Nov. 17 in San Francisco at age 87.
Mrs. Jordan was born in Rochester, N.Y. and moved to the Bay Area with her sister after graduating from high school. She worked as a licensed real estate broker and met
her husband Hanabul “Bud” Jordan while assisting in the purchase of 200 acres of land that would eventually become their family ranch.
Her connection to Fresno State started at a social gathering more than three decades ago when a retired Fresno State agriculture professor shared his enthusiasm for his college’s programs. That meeting led to a lasting relationship between the Jordans and Fresno State that ultimately resulted in a $29.5 million gift to Fresno State’s Ag One Foundation in 2009. The gift remains the largest single cash gift ever received by the California State University system.
“The impact of the Jordan family gift was transformational for Fresno State and continues to help us make our agricultural programs among the best in the nation,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “Mrs. Jordan and her beautiful family are among the greatest benefactors this University has ever known and our students, faculty and staff will be forever touched by her generosity.”
The gift was given on behalf of the Jordan family: Bud Jordan, his wife, Dee, and his brother, Lowell. Bud owned and operated a construction business headquartered in Hayward, and Lowell lived on the family ranch in Dublin, tending to cattle. Bud died April 29, 2002, at age 83, and Lowell died in July 2005 at age 81.
On May 13, 2009, the California State University Board of Trustees voted to name Fresno State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in honor of the family. In 2009 the Jordans were honored by Rep. George Radanovich on the floor of the California State Senate and ranked in the top 20 of the nation’s philanthropists by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Slate.com.
The cornerstone of the Jordan family’s vision for the college is now being realized with the Jordan Agricultural Research Center, a building under construction on the southeast corner of Barstow and Woodrow avenues. This 30,000-square-foot research facility is the first of its kind in the CSU system, designed for interdisciplinary agricultural research among students, faculty and industry.
At the 2014 groundbreaking ceremony for the center, Mrs. Jordan said, “My late husband Bud, as well as brother-in-law Lowell, would be so very pleased to see not only the family legacy tied to Fresno State agriculture but to know that the future of agriculture will be well served by the work to be done in the research center.”
The facility is scheduled to open in spring 2016.
“We are so deeply saddened that Mrs. Jordan will not be with us to celebrate the opening of the incredible research facility she and her family made possible, but their support will have a broad and long-lasting impact for the entire region,” said Dr. Sandra Witte, interim dean of the Jordan College. “Inside those walls, our students and faculty will work side-by-side with industry to solve the most complex challenges facing agriculture. The Jordan Agricultural Research Center will be the hub of innovation in agriculture for years to come.”
The Jordan family began supporting Fresno State through the Ag One Foundation in November 1995. Bob Glim, professor emeritus of agricultural economics and an adviser to the Ag One board, worked at Fresno State from 1948 to 1978. He and his wife, Dorothy, first met Bud and Dee Jordan at a GMC 49ers motorhome club rally.
The Glims organized one of the rallies and gave a talk about Fresno State’s agricultural program and the Ag One Foundation, which supports students and programs in the college. He shared some products grown on the Fresno State farm. The Jordans were at the rally and subsequently began supporting scholarships for students, even though they had never visited the Fresno State campus. Their first gift was $20,000.
This initial gift and subsequent gifts funded the Ag One Lowell A. Jordan and Jordan Family Endowment. Over the years, the Jordan family contributed $130,000 to this endowment, which supports six to seven students each year with scholarships of $1,000.
After their initial gift in 1995, Ag One executive director and senior director of development Alcidia Freitas Gomes regularly visited the Jordans in Hayward, bringing updates on their scholarship recipients, news from the college and student-produced farm products.
“It has been an honor to perpetuate the Jordan name through their support of Fresno State agriculture over the years,” Gomes said. “Dee, Bud and Lowell’s generosity has forever transformed the educational experience for our students and faculty and for the agricultural industry we serve through research. We will deeply miss Dee. We extend our sincere sympathies to her daughter, Chris, and family.”