For Dwain and Susan Hahs of Jackson, Missouri, giving back to their community and everyone around them is just part of who they are and how they live. The Southeast Missouri University Foundation is recognizing their giving philosophy and commitment to the University by naming them the 2021 Friends of the University Award recipients.
“It is quite an honor and humbling,” said Dwain Hahs. “Giving back is important…both Susan and I are involved in several organizations. It’s all about giving back.”
The Friends of the University award, which recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University, is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. The award honors the Hahs’ long-time commitment to philanthropy and generosity to Southeast Missouri State University.
“Anytime you can help somebody, it doesn’t matter if it is a scholarship or giving a free meal or anything, it just gives you a warm heart that you are able to do that,” said Susan Hahs. “Not only financially, if someone just needs a pat on the back, if you are able to help them and maybe help them throughout their life that just gives you a good feeling.”
Southeast President Dr. Carlos Vargas shared his appreciation of the Hahs’ contributions. “Dwain and Susan have made a difference in so many ways at Southeast. They have contributed their time, resources, expertise and experiences generously for many years, whether they lived in Missouri or abroad. The Hahs have truly been an inspiring example to others. On behalf of the University, we are grateful for their lifelong passion and commitment to Southeast.”
The Hahs have made many notable contributions to Southeast. They have established two scholarships, the Dwain and Susan Hahs Endowed Scholarship and the Dwain and Susan Hahs International Studies Fund. In honor of Mrs. Hahs’ father, a Southeast nursing graduate, they have made significant donations to the nursing program.
In recognition of their generosity, the Hahs have been annual members of the Copper Dome Society for the past 20 years. Additionally, their contributions make them President’s Council members, the highest level of donor contribution for the Foundation. The Hahs are also members of the Horizon Club for their planned giving commitments.
In addition to their generous donations, the Hahs have served in multiple volunteer roles.
Mr. Hahs is a member of the Foundation board and served as Chairman from 2012 to 2014.
From 2010 to 2015 he served as the co-chair for the highly successful “Honoring Tradition, Inspiring Success” campaign. And, since moving back to Southeast Missouri after Mr. Hahs’ retirement, the couple have been loyal fans and supporters of Redhawks sports teams.
“Contributions made by the Hahs have benefitted the past, present and future of the University and many, many students as well,” said Dr. Vargas. “Giving back is truly part of their DNA.”
After graduating from Southeast in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a major in marketing, Mr. Hahs’ career has taken him and Susan to Hong Kong, Canada and the United Kingdom. “[Southeast] gave me a fantastic education,” he said. “I interviewed for my first job at the office on campus…It progressed from there.” Mr. Hahs spent 33 years with Bausch & Lomb. He is currently President of Stonehenge Management, LLC and the Mayor of Jackson, Missouri.
Mrs. Hahs started her nursing degree at Southeast but finished her degree elsewhere, as she and Dwain married and they moved away before she could complete her program. Her ties to Southeast run deep however, as her father, Billy Joe Thompson, was the first male graduate of the nursing program in 1962. Mr. Hahs’ father also graduated from Southeast, and both have siblings that graduated from the University as well.
The Hahs encourage all Southeast alumni to give back, and not in just financial ways. “Stay involved. That means so much to the students that are getting their start,” Mr. Hahs shared.
When asked what advice they would give to students, the Hahs agreed. “Being open to new experiences, new ideas. I think that is very important and can lead to a much more fulfilling life,” said Mr. Hahs. “You only go around once, so you’ve got to make the best of it.,” Mrs. Hahs added.
The Friends of the University Award winners are usually recognized at the Foundation’s annual President’s Council event, which has been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. The Foundation is planning to recognize the Hahs during Southeast Homecoming activities in the fall.