Hildebrand Gift of $500,000 Will Support Military Students and UMUC’s Global Military Operations
University of Maryland University College renamed its Student Veterans Lounge at a Veterans Day ceremony in recognition of a $500,000 gift from Lt. Col. Dona Hildebrand (USAF-Retired), ‘57, on behalf of her and her late husband, Col. Floyd G. (Hildy) Hildebrand, ‘58. (Click HERE to view highlights from ceremony).
The lounge, which is located at UMUC’s Academic Center at Largo, was renamed the Col. Floyd G. and Lt. Col. Dona R. Hildebrand Student Veterans Lounge. As part of the event, attendees viewed a video message recorded by Hildebrand at her home in Monument, Colorado, in which she said: "[UMUC] was signficant in Hildy and my life because I met my husband at the university. Maryland was the matchmaker! Maryland was only univesity that was providing classes in Europe, but aside from being the only one, they were excellent in providing what we needed."
UMUC announced Hildebrand’s gift in March. The funds will provide support for military students and UMUC’s Global Military Operations unit. More than half of UMUC’s total student enrollment of 84,000 is active duty military personnel, veterans, reservists and their dependents.
“We are touched by Lt. Col. Dona Hildebrand’s generosity and deeply grateful for her years of service to our country and for her ongoing support of higher education for military students,” said UMUC President Javier Miyares. “She is a true pioneer, a role model for women everywhere, and epitomizes the spirit of service that distinguishes our graduates around the world. We are proud to count her among our most distinguished alumnae.”
The Hildebrand’s met while both were enrolled at UMUC’s campus in Wiesbaden, Germany. She earned a bachelor’s degree from UMUC and graduated in Heidelberg in 1957.
Hildebrand has been a longtime supporter of the university and in 2014 received UMUC’s Distinguished Alumna Award in recognition of her personal and professional achievements and exemplary record of service. She initiated the Floyd G. Hildebrand Endowed Military Scholarship in 2008 and has continued to support the scholarship.
“Education is important for anyone in any occupation,” said Hildebrand, who took courses from UMUC on several bases around the world. Both Hildebrands served in Vietnam and “we were impressed by military members who persevered in getting to UMUC classes regardless of hazardous conditions,” Dona Hildebrand said. “I am confident that this endowment will be of enduring help for future military students.”
Hildebrand has been proving for more than seven decades that women “can do more than just sit at home and knit,” she has said. A pioneer in the U.S. Air Force, Hildebrand served in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968. Her military career not only spanned 24 years, from 1951 to 1975, it also spanned the globe, with Hildebrand serving at duty stations in Spokane, Washington; Alaska; Germany; France; England; Thailand; Japan; Washington, D.C.; California; and Alabama.
Col. Floyd Hildebrand was a successful Air Force pilot who flew many dangerous missions but always felt he was missing something because he lacked a college degree. It was Dona who encouraged him to attend UMUC.
“Dona Hildebrand is a trailblazer who knows firsthand how important education is to military personnel,” said Gen. Milo Miles (US Army, Ret.), senior vice president for Global Military Operations at UMUC. “Serving the military is in our DNA, and we are proud that she has chosen to support servicemembers through UMUC as part of her and her late husband’s lasting legacy.”
The Student Veterans Lounge is a gathering place for UMUC students who are separating from the military and veterans or members of their families who are looking for camaraderie and online resources about transitioning to civilian life that are available from UMUC’s Veterans Resource Center. The lounge is staffed by advisors who can answer questions and provide guidance to veterans.