In memory of his mother
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.”