Service-minded Alumnus Sets Shining Example

Ralph Thrane, MBA ’58, made a five-year pledge toward increased annual support, a charitable gift annuity, and a bequest to the school. He then recruited and led a team to reach out to his classmates.

April 15, 2008

A self-described farm boy who started out in a one-room schoolhouse in North Dakota, Ralph Thrane, MBA ’58, came to Stanford GSB on the GI bill. A research assistantship helped finance his studies. Since leaving Stanford GSB, his leadership in fundraising and volunteer activities has become a hallmark of his long and successful career.

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Ralph Thrane, MBA ’58

“I’ve always been grateful to Stanford GSB for accepting me,” Thrane reflects. “My Stanford MBA provided me with a great management education and a group of lifelong friends. I owe a considerable debt to Stanford GSB, and leading my 50th reunion fundraising campaign was a way to give back.”

Throughout his career as an executive at two Fortune 500 companies and in volunteer service supporting a broad range of causes, including two stellar Stanford GSB reunion fundraising campaigns, Thrane has always understood the importance of participation. A seasoned volunteer with experience spanning 24 nonprofit organizations, Thrane accepted the invitation to chair his 50th reunion fundraising campaign and chose to make Stanford GSB a priority among his volunteer and philanthropic activities.

In order to ask his classmates to increase their participation from the previous reunion, Thrane felt he should demonstrate his own dedication to the collective class goal. He immediately stepped up his own commitments, making a five-year pledge toward increased annual support, a charitable gift annuity, and a bequest to the school. He then recruited and led a 16-person volunteer team to reach out to the entire class and worked closely with reunion planning chair Foster Kinney, MBA ’58, to make their 50th one for the record books.

Additionally, Thrane and classmate Bud Lake, MBA ’58, offered a $15,000 match if the class reached 50-percent participation by reunion weekend. Spurred by the match, the class succeeded. But class members did not stop there. They went on to raise a Class of 1958 record with $425,000 plus an additional $85,000 in bequest intentions. They also achieved a 50th reunion record with 72-percent participation.

“Any gift of time or money sends the message that Stanford GSB alumni support the fundamental mission of the school and are committed to sharing the opportunities we experienced with future generations of students,” Thrane notes. The collective effort provides Stanford GSB with a vital stream of sustained support in course development and other key areas like global management and faculty recruitment.

The Stanford GSB relies on annual giving for a significant portion of its operating budget. In the current economic climate, Stanford GSB is more dependent than ever on the generosity of its alumni to provide the financial flexibility to strengthen core academic areas while continuing to innovate. Ralph Thrane’s leadership stands out as an example of the role that alumni play in sustaining the continued success of the school.

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