Wintrode Legacy

Gift aimed to help “students who exhibited promise” provides hope, support to 4,100 at SDSU in 2013-14

Janice Conboy traveled from New Jersey in the spring of 2014 to lay to rest her father, Maurice, a 1948 SDSU graduate, in the cemetery less than a quarter-mile from the Parker, S.D., home where he grew up.

Virgil and Josephine Wintrode

Virgil and Josephine Wintrode

A day before the service, Conboy and other family toured the SDSU campus and the Wintrode Student Success Center, a building and program funded by Janice’s uncle and aunt, Virgil and Josephine Wintrode.

For Janice, it was her first visit to the center.

As director Jody Owen led the family through the building and explained the Wintrode Center’s impact, family members stopped and posed for photos in front of the plaque that described Virgil and Josephine’s inspiration for their transformative gift.

“Students with outstanding academic records have many friends who want to reward their success,” it read. “When it came to assisting students, however, Virgil and Josephine Wintrode always preferred to put their money on the student who needed just a little encouragement to get over the hump.”

The experience prompted Janice to reflect on going through some family effects, including Virgil’s high school report cards. His grades, she admitted, left a little to be desired.

Virgil went on to earn his degree from SDSU and participated in the European Theater in WWII. In 1959, he married Josephine, whom he’d met while both attended graduate school. They moved to Florida, where Virgil became a successful investor and developer.

SDSU became a prime beneficiary of their philanthropy.

It started with the Wintrode Challenge Award, a scholarship “aimed at those students who exhibited promise but whose high school grades did not merit consideration for traditional scholarships.” Virgil could relate to those kinds of students.

Siblings Virgil, Charlotte and Maurice

Siblings Virgil, Charlotte and Maurice

In 2007, backed by a seven-figure commitment, the Wintrode Center was launched. In seven years, the number of students served has nearly quadrupled (from 1,150 to 4,100) and total visits have grown fivefold (7,250 to 36,600).

The result has been improved grades and higher retention, keeping students on track to earn a college degree, as the Wintrodes envisioned. The center has also forged strong relationships between students.

Taylor Becker and LaTora Hossle met during an anatomy tutoring session in 2012. On September 24, after dating for two years, Becker proposed to Hossle in the tutoring room where they first met.

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