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USD Department Of Engineering Gifted $20 Million

The University of San Diego honored Darlene Marcos Shiley for her gift of $20 million to the department of engineering, now renamed Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

A sea of bright blue t-shirts looked on as the University of San Diego honored Darlene Marcos Shiley for her gift of $20 million to the department of engineering, now renamed the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, on Tuesday.

This gift is not only one of the largest donations to the university ever, but also one of the largest from the Shiley family.

Shiley, the widow of Donald P. Shiley, said the donation is to inspire students.

She said the gift is consistent with her and her husband's appreciation of USD.

"I listen to students talk about this campus, and what it means to them, and I am enthused and inspired to do what I can to make things a little bit better, a little bit easier for (them)," she said.

Her late husband died July 2010 after several years of failing health.

“I think when you’re made the steward of what someone has earned, such as my late husband did, it becomes very important that you do the right thing or the best that you can do and every day I kind of ask my late husband for guidance, 'Honey, am I doing the right thing?' I think he’s sending messages that this is what he had in mind," she said.

Shiley said education is very important to her and her husband, since both came from modest beginnings. He was co-inventor of a widely used artificial heart valve.

Donald Shiley went to college under the GI Bill as a World War II veteran. USD engineering student and Navy veteran Nathan Scherrer is following a similar path.

He's going to USD on the GI Bill and is also interested in bio-engineering. He said the new engineering school will carry its own distinction.

"I'm excited it's not going to be a part of the business program, it's going to be on its own and probably going to have some great labs, it's going to be really nice for the students, I'm really excited for them," he said.

The USD Engineering Department was founded in 1987. In 1991, the first class of only five students graduated. Now there are at least 360 students. Graduates receive a dual Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree in engineering.

Scherrer said to make a difference, he has to be different and he believes USD gives that unique reputation.

Disclosure: Darlene Shiley is a key supporter of KPBS.

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