Educator, mentor, civic leader, philanthropist.
Ronald Keith Calgaard, 82, President emeritus of Trinity University, died at home in San Antonio on Friday, April 10, 2020 after a brief illness.
Born on July 29, 1937 in Joice, Iowa, Ron was the son of Palmer Calgaard and Orrie Nessa Calgaard. He grew up with his parents and his older brother Robert on the family farm. He graduated from Joice High School and earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and doctoral and master's degrees in economics from the University of Iowa. He was a recipient of a Woodrow Wilson graduate fellowship. From 1965 to 1967 he held a post-doctoral fellowship in Latin American Studies in Santiago, Chile.
In 1956, Ron met the love of his life, Genie Flom, while they were students at Luther College. They were married on June 14, 1959. Together they built a life committed to family and community, education and philanthropy.
Ron began his career in higher education in 1963 when he joined the faculty of the University of Kansas, where he served as a professor and administrator for 16 years. He was a professor of economics from 1963 to 1973. In 1973, he became the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Kansas, holding that administrative position until he became the president of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas in 1979. At Trinity, Ron's twenty-year presidential tenure was the longest in the university's history.
Under his visionary leadership, Trinity achieved national recognition for excellence as a liberal arts and sciences undergraduate institution. In support of the mission to create a vigorous undergraduate learning community at Trinity, he advocated for and built a truly residential university and recruited and supported outstanding faculty and students. Ron admired all Trinity faculty and staff members; he encouraged them to set ambitious goals for themselves and to be active, engaged members of Trinity's caring community. The Calgaards were well known for welcoming students and their families, faculty and staff, and community members into their home on the Trinity campus. Ron also helped establish several endowed lecture series that were open to the public, thereby enriching the cultural and intellectual resources of the campus and greater community of San Antonio.
A dynamic and respected civic leader in San Antonio for forty years, Ron served on numerous corporate, civic, non-profit, educational, and philanthropic boards. He was admired for his integrity, knowledge, and fundraising talents and for his heartfelt personal commitment to humanitarian causes. He was a gifted communicator who found great joy in connecting people and collaborating on initiatives that improved the lives of others. He was also a wise mentor to generations of students, faculty members, and civic and academic leaders.
After what he called his "first" retirement in 1999, Ron led or served on the boards of several investment and philanthropic organizations including The Trust Company N.A., Austin, Calvert & Flavin, Waddell & Reed, the Ray Ellison Grandchildren Trust, and the Causeway Trust. He served on the corporate boards of the Valero Energy Corporation and Luby's Cafeterias, Inc. Ron was a long-time board member and former chair of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. Among the community foundations and organizations, he served as a board member or advisor were the Southwest Research Institute, the Texas Research Technology Foundation, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute Foundation, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, the San Antonio Medical Foundation, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. He was an elder at First Presbyterian Church for many years.
Ron lent his support to many other educational institutions and non-profit organizations as a board member or consultant including St. Mary's Hall, TMI-The Episcopal School of San Antonio, San Antonio Academy, The Carver Academy, the San Antonio Education Partnership, The DoSeum, the Southwest School of Art, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas Lutheran University, and Luther College, his alma mater.
Ron cherished time spent with his family and adored his two grandchildren. He enjoyed traveling the globe with his wife of 60 years, his children and grandchildren, and many relatives and friends. He arranged for memorable family excursions to Alaska and the Caribbean and annual trips to Park City, Utah and Lake Tahoe. He encouraged his children, grandchildren, and students to explore the world and to learn from their travels. He was a voracious reader and loved spending time in his booklined library at home reading, playing card games with family and friends, and following his favorite sports teams – the Trinity Tigers, the KU Jayhawks, the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Yankees, and the Spurs (where he was a 30 year season ticket holder).
He is survived by his wife, Genie Flom Calgaard, his children and their spouses, Lisa Calgaard Sands and Peter Sands and Kent and Francie Calgaard; his two grandchildren, Eliot Sands and Kathleen Calgaard; his sister-in-law Mary Jane Calgaard; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Mark and Connie Flom; extended family members, and cherished friends. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother.
A celebration of Ron's life will take place at the Margarite B. Parker Chapel at Trinity University on a future date. Memorial contributions may be made in Ron's memory to The Ron and Genie Calgaard Scholarship Fund or to the Dr. Ron and Genie Calgaard Fund for Study Abroad at Trinity University, or to the charity of your choice.
The family would like to thank Dr. Calgaard's physicians and caregivers for their kind and compassionate care during his illness.
You are invited to signthe Guestbook atwww.porterloring.com