Sac State Torchlight

Annual Giving


Carole Dawson ('86) has made a habit of contributing to campus annual giving programs.

Alumna’s quest to make things better provides basis for support

As a civil engineer, Carole Jeanne Samuelson Dawson’s job boiled down to finding solutions to problems. She takes the same approach to her community involvement and philanthropy.

“I’ve always wanted to try and fix things,” Dawson says. “That’s the way engineers think.”

From her work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to her service to her hometown of Monterey, Dawson ’86 (Civil Engineering) was dedicated to troubleshooting and coming up with necessary accommodations for various projects.

It’s also the thought process behind her charitable giving, which includes faithful support of her alma mater. Dawson’s contributions to Sac State include gifts to the Ken Kerri Endowment Fund, the Sac State Fund and the College of Engineering and Computer Science Annual Fund.

As a contributor to the Sac State Fund, Dawson provides unrestricted funds to help the University in areas where the needs are most urgent.Her contributions to the Ken Kerri Endowment Fund enable the civil engineering program to attract top students to Sac State and provide support for students and faculty. It holds a special meaning for both Dawson and her husband Mike, who is a retired civil engineer himself.

“In the current economic climate, with continuing federal and state funding cuts to higher education, I feel it is more important than ever to invest in education by donating to my alma mater, Sac State,” Dawson says.

Kerri was one of the professors Dawson said made a lasting impression on her, along with professors Ralph Hwang and Susan Holl.

Even in her undergraduate years she participated in activities that benefited the community. She says her involvement with the Tau Beta Pi honor society at Sac State planted the roots for her civic engagement.

“We worked in the tutoring center and helped other students with homework,” Dawson says. “It was great leadership training.”

Dawson was also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers.Among the hands-on engineering projects that left a lasting impression were the concrete canoe competition and the egg drop.

“We had to design a container or a parachute to protect the egg and then drop it from the top of the engineering building,” she explains. “That and the concrete canoe races at Lake Natoma are two things that stick out in my mind.”

Dawson came to Sac State well-versed in writing after earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UC Santa Barbara. After earning her civil engineering degree she worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Monterey and the City of Seaside. She put her writing talents and engineering know-how to work as a grant writer and secured more than $8.5 million in federal aid and grant funds for Monterey.

Both of the cities recognized Dawson with official proclamations. When she stepped down from her post with Monterey in 2000, then-mayor Dan Albert proclaimed that: “Carole Dawson, P.E. is worth her weight in gold.”

She and her husband currently reside in the Alta Mesa neighborhood of Monterey and both are active in the community. Carole contributes to the Alliance of Monterey Area Preservationists and is treasurer of the League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula.