Texas Rep. William Callegari and his wife, Ann, have supported LSU for more than 30 years. “We just want to give back,” Bill said. “LSU was good to me while I was there … I never wanted to go anywhere else but LSU.”
Bill earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Engineering in 1963. He shared, “The professors and staff in Agriculture and Engineering were especially good to me. They were very encouraging through my four years at LSU.”
A half-century later, Bill and Ann continue to show their appreciation for that experience. Recently, the couple made a gift to help fund the Breaking New Ground campaign and provide ongoing support for the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center at the LSU AgCenter. “I have an allegiance to both,” Bill said. “Deep down, I felt an obligation to help both engineering and the environmental center.”
The Breaking New Ground campaign was a year-long public-private fundraising effort to support the renovation of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and construction of a chemical engineering addition. The effort is poised to help LSU increase Louisiana’s engineering workforce by nearly 50 percent in the next five years.
The W.A. Callegari Environmental Center was established in 1999 and is the AgCenter’s research and training facility for water and air quality and composting organic waste. Located on an 8-acre site, the center serves researchers, agriculture producers, private communities, government agencies, and the general public in the areas of composting, water quality, air quality and bioenergy.
Bill said he was drawn to the idea of the center because he had developed a business based in the same field of water systems, wastewater systems and other environmental issues. “[The center] was an opportunity for me to give back and establish something that could help not just the university, but the entire state,” he explained.
Back home in Texas, Bill loves the university—loudly. While sitting in the Texas House of Representatives, he has a unique presence. “Whenever my phone rings, everybody knows whose it is because mine plays the LSU pregame show,” he shared, adding, “It’s my way of making sure they know who’s the best.”
The Callegaris, both natives of Cottonport, Louisiana, have also given to the Lod Cook Alumni Center and actively participate in numerous programs across campus, with Bill named to the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction and the College of Engineering Hall of Distinction. Their love for LSU has spread throughout three generations: they have two sons and two grandsons who have attended the university.
The center named in Bill’s honor, and his and Ann’s multiple other gifts, celebrate how fondly Bill remembers his time at LSU. “I just want to make it possible for other kids to enjoy and benefit from an LSU education as I was able to do,” he said of the support.
Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2014.