Lee and Barbara Kopp receive national benefactors award

Posted: December 6, 2004

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

News release from the Council for Resource Development

The Council for Resource Development in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Dec. 3, honored Lee and Barbara Kopp of Edina, Minn., as a Benefactor of the Year for their generous support of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The award for the Kopps is one of 10 presented to winners throughout the United States and Canada. The Benefactor award has been given annually since 1991 to recognize exceptional donors to community colleges. Winners were judged on the impact their gifts had on the college's students and the community as well as the long-term impact of their gifts. The winners were honored at a banquet Friday during the council's 38th National Conference in Washington, D.C.

"We're trying to show the world that you can have a significant impact in your community by giving to the community college," said Polly Binns, the council's executive director. "The multiplier effect of the gifts means so much when you invest in a community college because most graduates stay in their communities. When you invest in your community college, you are investing in the future of your community."

Thomas Horak, president emeritus of Normandale Community College, one of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, noted that Lee Kopp was the first in his family to go to college.

"Therefore he understands the problems faced by many of our students," Horak said. "In the past eight years, Lee Kopp has renewed his commitment to them over and over again. Through the creation of endowed presidential scholarship programs and annual scholarships, he has met the needs of multiple campuses and their students."

Lee Kopp frequently cites the first $200 scholarship he received in 1956 as the assistance that was essential for him to attend college. The son of a parking lot attendant whose family had four children, he said the small scholarships he received made a profound difference. He founded and operates Kopp Investment Advisors, a money-management firm based in Edina, Minn.

Since 1995, The Kopp Family Foundation has been extraordinarily charitable. The foundation has given $4.55 million to 10 Minnesota community and technical colleges: Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Anoka Technical College, Century College, Dakota County Technical College, Inver Hills Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College, St. Cloud Technical College and St. Paul College.

The Kopp family recently was honored by Normandale Community College, which named its student center the Kopp Student Center. Century College recently completed the Kopp Technology Center, and Minneapolis Community and Technical College dedicated Lee and Barbara Kopp Hall on May 17.

The "Random Acts of Kindness" program recently also was created by the Kopps, enabling struggling students to stay in college.

In presenting its award, the council noted that Lee and Barbara Kopp have generously, consistently and quietly given to the colleges serving students in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, and that they give, not as alumni, but as citizens honoring the value of the students and programs.

"For the breadth of their generosity and the scope of their vision for community college students, the Council for Resource Development is pleased to honor Lee and Barbara Kopp," Binns said.

The council is an affiliate and major council of the American Association of Community Colleges. Its mission is to educate and advocate for community college leaders dedicated to securing resources to increase the effectiveness of institutions and the students they serve. More than 1,400 members represent more than 1,000 two-year colleges in the United States and Canada.


Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.