Celebrating the Good Life: SoBA Donor Makes Gift for Students from Central California
Life has been good for Don Witmer. Thirty years after getting his MBA at UM, after guiding four different companies through their IPOs in Silicon Valley’s white-hot start-up climate, raising a daughter and two grandkids, he and his wife, Elaine, now own a pistachio orchard down in Paso Robles, California. They have a cellar full of good local wine. Sometimes, after too many glasses, he thinks about going back to work and doing another IPO, but for the most part he’s happy to enjoy the orchard and life on the Central Coast.
Witmer may be content in his retirement, but he’s not content to just sit back. He’s active in a number of local and community charities, like MUST! Charities, a coalition of local business people who come together to fight poverty issues in their community. Then there’s his UM volunteerism. He’s served on the School of Business Administration’s Business Advisory Council and the UM House of Delegates.
Last year, he took his commitment to SoBA to the next level by making a gift in support of scholarships. His scholarship fund will support undergraduate students from Central California who are business majors.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” Witmer says. “We know kids locally who want to go to UM, but it’s too expensive.”
He also recognizes that substantial scholarships help UM recruit out-of-state students, helping the University in another way. It’s a “real value trade,” he says.
The first Don Witmer Scholarship will be awarded for the 2016-17 school year.
“I hope that the students who receive our scholarship are inquisitive and do more than just go to classes – I hope they take advantage of activities, visit other countries and so forth. To know that I had a part of that – that makes me feel good. I would feel very privileged if some student became successful because of my scholarship.”