In December 2020, Fresno State alumnus Chuck Hudelson was looking to make a donation to the University in honor of his mother, Mildred. He wasn’t quite sure where he wanted his $100,000 IRA rollover monies to go, but when he shared with the University his mom’s passion for teaching, it was an easy decision.

“Teaching just lit up my mom’s life,” he said. “Teaching children thrilled her every day.”

Hudelson’s gift funded a “Reggio-inspired” classroom in the Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.

The classroom is named after a city in Italy that is recognized worldwide for its innovative, four-pronged approach to education. Children must have some control over the direction of their learning; be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing; have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore; and have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.

“I’m just flabbergasted with the ability to produce programs for children with things I never thought they’d be involved with,” he said. “Computers at such an early age, my goodness, that’s wonderful.”

Hudelson, who graduated from Fresno State in 1960 with a master’s degree in speech, credits the Teacher’s and Friends of Education Honor Wall at Fresno State for inspiring his decision to donate to the Kremen School. His mother is honored with a brick on the wall, which is located in front of the Kremen Education building.

“She was in a wheelchair at the time I took her to see the wall,” Hudelson said. “It was a big deal for her. That’s when I thought about giving back to Fresno State.”

Mildred Hudelson didn’t enter the profession until she was in her 50s. “This was back in Iowa, where she taught first grade,” Hudelson said.

In 1953, after the family relocated to the Fresno area, Mildred got a job teaching at Jackson Elementary School in Sanger. This proved to be a defining moment for Mildred in her life, Hudelson said.

“Kids really got her excited. She was really happy with each one and moving them onto the next grade,” Hudelson said.

In addition to Hudelson’s mother, both of his aunts and both of his daughters got into the teaching profession, inspired in large part by Mildred’s passion for the career.

Hudelson said it was his CPA who suggested he might look into making a cash donation of the IRA rollover, rather than pay a hefty tax.

“I thought I could do something more useful with that money,” he said.

Upon reaching age 72, an individual is required to begin taking their Required Minimum Distribution annually. However, instead of receiving the funds outright, they may choose to donate their distribution to a charitable organization, such as Fresno State.

Hudelson went on to make two more cash donations of $10,000 each to the Kremen School’s Fresno Family Counseling Center and the Kremen Student Equity Scholars Fund.

“I’m just a guy who got lucky enough to have that [rollover money] available at that time,” Hudelson said. “It’s a happy surprise to know that my mom got me behind the idea of doing something positive for the school.”

For more information on how to make an IRA charitable rollover, contact the Office of Planned Giving at 559.278.1877.