San Diego State University College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts

SDSU Alumni Couple Contributes $1 million to Support the School of Communication and KPBS

SDSU Alumni Couple Contributes $1 million to Support the School of Communication and KPBS

January 19, 2018

Although Tom Golich (’60) and Donna Bergelis (’60) attended the same high school in San Bernardino, CA, they met for the first time as students on the SDSU campus.

At SDSU, Donna earned her degree in Speech Communication. She was active in speech and debate throughout her college career, and enjoyed traveling to different campuses, meeting interesting people and competing nationwide.

After graduating, Donna stayed home to raise her and Tom’s three daughters. The couple is proud that all three daughters graduated from college and successfully entered professional fields. Once they were grown, Donna taught crafting classes at Mira Costa College. In the realm of crafts, there is little that Donna cannot do. Her skills include making baskets, sewing quilts and floral design. She also maintains what, by any standard, is an exceptional garden. She is a member of the San Diego Horticulture Society, San Dieguito Garden Club, American Association of University Women, the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society, and serves as a judge for the National Association of Garden Clubs.

Tom earned his BA in General Studies, a degree that included three minors: Geology, Speech Arts, and Economics. These minors served him well as he embarked on a successful career in the aerospace industry. Early in his career, Tom was assigned to a program with Ryan Aeronautical to help build Surveyor, the very first earth object that would land on the surface of the moon. He worked for several companies over the years, concluding his career as Program Director for Special Programs and Director of Contracts for Government Programs at Qualcomm. However, his proudest moment came as Mayor of Solana Beach. Under his leadership, the Solana Beach City Council implemented the very first beach and park smoking ban in the continental United States, leading the way for similar legislation at beaches and parks around the country.

Tom and Donna share a passion for the environment. They appreciate spending time outdoors, enjoying nature. Donna’s love of gardening is an extension of this passion. Tom chairs the President’s Council of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and is also an active volunteer with the San Dieguito River Valley Park.

The two also share a passion for travel, aiming for one international trip a year. Notably, they have visited all seven continents, and have seen four solar eclipses in totality. While they have traveled many places, their favorites are southern Africa and Antarctica.

Tom and Donna have made a $1 million planned gift that will support SDSU’s School of Communication and SDSU-affiliated radio station, KPBS. Their gift to the School of Communication is the largest in the School’s history. This gift was created as an endowment, and will thus provide scholarships in perpetuity to Communication students with financial need. They are funding a portion of their endowment now, enabling scholarship fund to be immediately available for students. When asked what prompted them to make their generous gift, they each shared what a good experience they had as students. “SDSU opened up great opportunities for me,” reflected Tom. “This seemed like a good way to give back for all that SDSU has given us.” Donna added, “Lifelong learning is so important. We feel our support of SDSU is really an investment in future generations.”

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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