Businessman James F. Dicke II has been generous to Heidelberg University over the past decade, donating hundreds of pieces of artwork, an original sculpture and funds the university used to purchase the unique and historic Octagon House adjacent to the campus. Dicke’s latest gift, unlike his other contributions to the aesthetic beauty of the campus, will have a profound impact on people.
President Robert H. Huntington announced at the annual Faculty Awards Dinner Feb. 22 that Dicke has committed the largest single cash gift from a non-Heidelberg alumna/us or non-Heidelberg family in the history of the school -- $1.25 million that is being designated for professional development activities of faculty and academic staff.
The donation, Huntington explained, is being earmarked for Heidelberg’s $75 million Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence (ACCE). The Dicke Faculty and Staff Professional Development Fund will be established to support and strengthen Heidelberg’s faculty and academic staff. Beginning immediately with his first $250,000 contribution, Dicke will create a permanent $1 million endowment over the next five years, and provide an additional $50,000 annually over five years to launch the impact now.
“Heidelberg is committed to enhancing the student and faculty experience,” Huntington said. “We are grateful that Mr. Dicke has joined us in our mission. Our faculty and their distinguished teaching and research are the lifeblood of the institution. This gift will benefit their work on behalf of our students for many years. Mr. Dicke’s significant generosity is at the center of our entire ACCE plan.”
An accomplished artist, photographer and executive, Dicke is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He became familiar with Heidelberg through lifelong friend and New Bremen, Ohio, native and Heidelberg Trustee Rev. Dr. Ralph Quellhorst, ’59. Dicke quickly recognized the virtues of the campus, its traditions, architecture, and most importantly, its mission, he said in a 2012 interview.
“It’s one of those wonderful college campuses that has both beauty and historical significance,” said Dicke, who is chairman and CEO of Crown Equipment Corp., a family-owned operation headquartered in New Bremen. The company is a global leader in lift truck manufacturing.
Dicke said he was drawn to Heidelberg’s family atmosphere and an opportunity “to do something that wouldn’t happen otherwise.”
“Colleges have an understandable challenge in spreading resources in a way that enhances students’ experiences when there are always so many other priorities,” he said. “The sorts of things that have been priorities for Heidelberg – enriching the experience for students and faculty – were not likely to happen unless a philanthropic gift made it possible.”
Huntington said Dicke’s gift directly addresses the overarching priority set forth in the ACCE campaign. “Providing faculty the resources they need and deserve to stay current in their fields, including well-earned sabbaticals, translates directly to the classroom experience they deliver to our students,” he said. “We are heartened that Mr. Dicke believes in our mission as fully as we do.”
ACCE, the largest fund-raising initiative in Heidelberg’s history, is the second phase of the university’s overall Strategic Action Plan. The first phase, completed last fall, involved the renovation and construction of five facilities on campus. With the Dicke gift, the university has received about $40.5 million in cash, pledges and estate designations toward the $75 million ACCE goal. The campaign will run through June 2016.