Planned Gift Allows Alumnus to Say Thank You

While traveling in Nicaragua, a cashew merchant in an LSU T-shirt caught Rick Steldt’s eye.
While traveling in Nicaragua, a cashew merchant in an LSU T-shirt caught Rick Steldt’s eye.

LSU alumnus Frank Richard "Rick" Steldt recently visited campus, more than 30 years after earning a doctorate in physics. During his trip, Steldt enjoyed going back to many familiar places, including his former graduate student office and Nicholson Hall laboratories.
One of the highlights of his trip was sharing with former Dean Kevin Carman that he has decided to leave a trust valued at more than $1 million dollars to the LSU Foundation for the benefit of the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Now a retired physics professor from Indiana University, Steldt fully credits LSU for his successful career as an educator. Upon his retirement, he received an annuity, and has since established a trust to be used to help graduate students like he once was.

Steldt said of his gift, "When I first started at LSU, I did not have any financial aid. I'd like to have a fund in part to service incoming graduate students who don't have any kind of assistance themselves.”

In December 1971, Steldt received his PhD in physics, with a minor in electrical engineering. He then became a research associate and taught a sophomore physics class in Nicholson Hall for one semester.

At that time, academic positions were scarce. Steldt was marketable because of his experience teaching at LSU, and when a position opened up at Indiana University, he was hired. "I became the one person that had all these things," Steldt explained, adding, “That was my career. Everything that happened as a result of that job shaped my life, and the one reason why I got that job was because what I did at LSU was unique."

Though he is retired, Steldt still keeps up with the field of physics. "Physics is the world around us, it's how things work,” he said. “You can't have anything more important than how things work in the world in which you live."

Steldt has always felt indebted to LSU. In return for leaving a generous gift to his former department, Steldt will leave a legacy where his career journey began, something he has wanted to do for a long time.

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