As a teenager over 40 years ago, Mary Ann Duderstadt made a decision that changed her life. Much against her father’s wishes, she left her home state of California to enroll as an education student at the then-College of St. Francis. “When I was young going to college was not the thing to do,” she said. “My father thought I should have gotten married.”
But, Duderstadt’s mother had attended St. Francis and often shared great stories of her experience. “It was to honor her that I made the decision to go,” she said. “I was lucky enough to get a scholarship and things then just fell into place.” And, to the pleasure of her father, she did get married—after graduation—to Peery, who she said “almost feels like he graduated from St. Francis, too.”
Now, the Duderstadts are leaving an indelible mark on USF. “I continued to be in constant contact with USF because I felt the education I got there was excellent,” she said. She served as the 1968 class representative for many years, organized reunions, memorialized classmates on campus and even helped start the Parents Association when her daughter, Sarah (’03), attend the university.
In addition to being annual donors, the Duderstadts also have included USF in their will. “It was a way to pay back the university for all the good things I got from them,” she said. “There’s a legacy there now. There’s a long family commitment to St. Francis.”
Giving to USF was a “no brainer” for Duderstadt, but her advice to others considering a gift is to support the part of the university that they feel most passionate about or had the greatest impact on their life. “There are ways of making sure your money is used the way you want it to be used,” she said. “Where did St. Francis make the biggest impact in your life? Give to that.”
After 42 years of giving of herself as a teacher, Duderstadt is set to retire in May 2010.
“I’ve always taught values because values are universal,” she said. “St. Francis was a role model for me in terms of that. Work to the best of your ability. Never stop trying. Respect one another.”