Honoring their daughter's legacy: Q&A with John and Diane Houle

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 12:00pm

After tragedy struck their family, John Houle (B.C.E. ’83, M.C.E. ’84), a vice president at 3M, and his wife, Diane, generously chose to endow a scholarship in their daughter’s memory. To date, five students have benefited from the Jennifer Houle Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship and are striving to become the business leaders of tomorrow. 

Why did you choose to endow a scholarship in your daughter's memory at the University of Minnesota? 

Jennifer loved the University of Minnesota and the Carlson School of Management. Her overall educational and social experience at the University was outstanding, including special connections with Women In Business, Pi Beta Phi Sorority, professors, and friends. We thought one of the best ways to honor her legacy was through the gift of education to a place she loved.  

Her father, John, comes from a family of ten children (number seven in the family) and was the first one to go to college by receiving a football scholarship to the U of M where he studied engineering. He was fortunate to also receive the Sommerfeld Fellowship for graduate school in engineering at the University of Minnesota. 

Jennifer received a scholarship to Carlson School that influenced her decision to stay in Minnesota. We are very grateful for the additional time we had with Jennifer since she stayed local. Our family benefited from the financial support of others to help us pursue our education so we wanted to honor Jennifer by helping others do the same. Jennifer’s younger brother, Mark, also graduated from the University of Minnesota, so we have a strong connection to the U of M.

How does it feel to see students benefiting from your philanthropy? 

We have been fortunate to meet the recipients of Jennifer’s scholarship and hear firsthand how this award is helping them pursue their dreams. We know how important education is in helping to shape their future, and it feels great to see the difference we are making in the lives of these students. Our very first scholarship recipient is working at 3M, so it is really special to see how the scholarship can enable the future success of our scholars.

Has 3M’s culture influenced your philanthropy or desire to make an impact through the University of Minnesota? 

Part of the 3M culture is to give back to our communities that we live and work in through volunteer activities, community giving, and helping those in need. As leaders in our community, we are encouraged to use our talents to help improve the lives of others. We also have a strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion so this scholarship in Jennifer’s honor also tries to select recipients that promote diversity for the Carlson School of Management. 3M and the University of Minnesota have always had a strong partnership, and this scholarship is just another way that our organizations are connected.

Is there anything you’d like to add? 

We are extremely grateful for the emotional support for our family as well as the financial support for Jennifer's scholarship from our friends and colleagues at 3M. Their kindness and generosity, from the very beginning and continuing today, are sincerely appreciated. Also, we are trying to honor Jennifer’s memory by doing what we can to promote awareness of mental health and provide financial assistance for those furthering their education at the Carlson School of Management.


Photo courtesy of the Carlson School of Management


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