By Dr. Elizabeth Christian
Pineville, LA (LC News) – A journey that began from a $100 scholarship for one Baton Rouge teenager has grown over 60 years and affected countless young people at Louisiana College.
Don Hill, president of DMH & Associates, said that $100 was enough back in 1960 to tilt the scales for him, and he enrolled in Louisiana College to study math and business.
Hill was a high school senior in Baton Rouge and was given a $100 scholarship to attend Louisiana College, and that settled his college decision.
“My whole life has been God leading me,” he said. “Louisiana College was the right spot for me.”
And Hill, a 1964 Summa Cum Laude graduate of LC, along with his wife Terry, have spent a lifetime giving back.
The Hills have been providing scholarships for five LC students each year for several years now through the Board of Visitors Scholarship Fund started by Brewer in 2015. The Hills were founding members.
They have used various ways to give back to LC from cash donations, donating appreciated stocks to making Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) from his IRA.
“After the age 70 ½ you’re mandated by the federal government to take a Required Mandatory Distribution out of your IRA account, a certain percentage each year, and it increases as you age,” Hill explained. “It would be counted as taxable income if I deposited the yearly distributions or I can make QCD’s, which transfers money directly from the IRA to LC. Using this approach, we do not pay taxes on the distribution because we don’t actually receive the money.”
Most recently, the Hills worked with the Louisiana Baptist Foundation and established a charitable gift annuity with LC as the beneficiary.
Jeff Steed, the executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Foundation, said gifts like that of the Hills provide a two-fold benefit by benefitting the donor and investing in a ministry like Louisiana College that advances the cause of Christ.
“Don and Terry Hill have established a charitable gift annuity that will provide retirement income to them and then benefit the tremendous work of Louisiana College by impacting the lives of many students,” Steed said.
Steed said it has been a blessing for the Foundation to work with such forward-thinking individuals.
LC President Rick Brewer said his gratitude for the generosity and support from the Hills never ceases. They are Christians who continuously put their money where their hearts are.
“Don and Terry Hill continue to lead the way for Louisiana College with support for Christian higher education now and into the future through this giving initiative,” said President Rick Brewer. “May their charitable gift annuity inspire scores of other Alums of the College to do the same. The value associated with ensuring a Christ-centered education for future generations is inestimable.”
And their hearts are devoted to Christ and helping provide a Christ-centered college education for students.
Hill was honored in the fall of 2015 as a Louisiana College Distinguished Alumni. The plaque hangs in their living room in Dallas, Terry said.
Terry is very proud of her husband of 53 years and believes LC played a big part in his early life.
“I see how he’s turned out in business and in his personal life. LC is doing a great job. I am a little prejudiced,” she said jokingly. “He’s a good man. He’s smart. I’m smarter, but he is pretty smart.”
Seriously, she adds, “His going to LC and the atmosphere there was good for him, and that’s been a blessing to both of us.”
Terry said health issues prevent her from traveling much anymore, but she hopes to get to visit her husband’s alma mater again when she is feeling better.
After all these years together, the Hills are still playful. Hill refers to his wife as his soulmate. And it’s easy to see they are of one mind spiritually and financially.
“I’ve been very blessed with intellect and with everything I’ve tried to do,” Hill said. “God has blessed me. I have received nice compensation, and I’ve never forgotten the value of my four years at LC.”
Hill said he has tried to give back to the place that gave him his career start ever since he got his first real job—beginning with $1,000 annually to what was then called the President’s Club.
Once Brewer became president in 2015, and Hill saw the direction LC was going then he began to give in earnest.
“I knew he’d put the funds to good use,” Hill said.
Hill recounted Brewer’s request during a breakfast meeting in Dallas in which the college president told him the Student Government Association (SGA) had made a request for additional campus lighting to improve safety on campus.
“When he said SGA—I was president of SGA back then—I said ‘OK,’” Hill said.
He discussed it with Terry and told Brewer they would provide $50,000 for lighting and landscaping on campus.”
“Dr. Brewer’s quite persuasive,” Hill said with a smile and a chuckle. “Seriously, though, we did hit it off from the first time we met. My wife liked him, and she doesn’t necessarily like all the people I meet.”
Terry is completely supportive of her husband’s philanthropic choices.
“Louisiana College is a good school,” she said sweetly. “It did a very good job with my husband.
“If God helps you, and you can help other people, that’s a good thing. It’s your responsibility to give back when you can.”
Like her husband, Terry said she was blessed with many good teachers growing up and believes supporting Christian education is important.
The Hills have also provided funding at LC for refurbishment of the restrooms in the H.O. West Lobby and the Athletic Facilities Campaign. They also donated money for the computer science classroom in Cavanaugh Hall.
To students, in true businessman jargon—Hill offered this advice—to get involved and maximize their return on investment (ROI) while at LC. He said students would do themselves a service to take advantage of all LC offers —the small class sizes, the involvement of their professors and the extra curriculum activities because it makes a huge difference in the long run.
Hill, who furthered his education earning a master’s degree on a fellowship to Florida State University thanks to the encouragement and support of an LC professor, said the value of his time in college can’t be overestimated.
“Going to LC was the most important four-year period of my whole life,” he said, as he explains the trajectory of his life from Pineville to graduate school, to his first job, to meeting his wife, and his successful career journey.
Hill has worked all over the country—beginning as a statistician for the federal government for the Public Health Service, then for IBM—and ultimately becoming executive vice president of a national credit bureau and president of a bankruptcy services company.
“It was here at LC that my intellect was sharpened, my faith deepened, my leadership capabilities expanded, and my social skills enhanced,” Hill said. It gave a lot to me, and I’m still trying to repay. I still have a long way to go.”