Fall 2018

In memory of his mother

Jim Hansen and his mother, Louise DiGirolamo Hansen, in 1973
Courtesy of Jim Hansen

Louise DiGirolamo Hansen didn’t speak English when she immigrated to St. Paul from Italy as a teenager, nor was she able to go to college. She had other plans for her children—college and a professional degree—that eldest son Jim Hansen, ’77 B.A., ’78 B.S., took to heart. 

Hansen became the first in his family to attend college, working a hospital night shift as a medical assistant to help with tuition. He then earned an M.B.A. and became CEO of a technology company, all while staying involved in education through board service and teaching graduate students.

When his high school alma mater, Hill-Murray School, asked for advice in their search for a new president, he never expected to be offered the job. Since accepting the position in 2014, he’s grown enrollment four years in a row, bucking a national trend of declines.

In memory of his mother, Hansen created the Louise DiGirolamo  Hansen Scholarship in the U’s College of Education and Human Development with an outright gift and a gift in his will. The endowed fund supports first-generation college students interested in science education. “Being a teacher was the best job I ever had,” says Hansen, who is passionate about creative approaches to learning. “I want to help provide that opportunity to more first-generation students.”