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Lifetime Learner Makes Scholarship His Legacy
Lifetime Learner Makes Scholarship His Legacy

Matson Haug MSEE ‘84 has an ardent love of learning.  At 72 years old, his features are still boyish, his eyes are curious and warm. His bookshelf is overcrowded with textbooks on everything from organic chemistry to quantum physics. His home is decorated with artifacts acquired from travel to India, Guatemala and the time he spent abroad working for Mentor Graphics in Grenoble, France.

One year ago Haug was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. While it is only recently that health complications have prevented him from taking courses at PSU – something he has done for more than 30 years – with a planned gift of $25,000, he is helping to ensure that others can do the same.

“I got through school twice on scholarships and grants,” explains Haug. “I grew up poor. I received a scholarship to attend Kansas City Community College. It was only a few hundred dollars, but I had no money. If I hadn’t had the scholarship I wouldn’t have been able to go to school.”

Haug was working toward a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City when life events prompted a move to Portland in 1973. He enrolled at PSU in 1980 as a freshman after making the decision to become an engineer. Supported by financial aid awards and a two-year gig washing the windows of Burger King drive-thrus (he was sometimes paid in hamburgers), Haug completed preparatory coursework and earned a Masters in Electrical Engineering in only four years. He also gained a bevy of life-long friends. Thirty years later they are still close and meet for lunch once a month.

“I met Mat when he was returning for his engineering degree; he brought such an intense desire to learn that he inspired and helped the whole class,” said classmate and long-time friend Mira Vowles, BSME ‘83. “We graduated together and kept in touch; I love hearing about his new adventures, and I’m always amazed!”

Upon learning of his diagnosis, another classmate and monthly lunch companion, moved to rename a scholarship in his honor. Though reluctant for the attention, he is delighted to be a part of something that will provide a learning and career pathway for generations of PSU engineering and computer science students to come.

“With hard work you can get ahead, but you need support every now and then,” explains Haug. “It’s really an honor to have a scholarship in my name for people who need it. It is important to me to offer help to people who need it. I love Portland State, what can I say. We had fun, my classmates, my lunch group – we all had successful careers. I want to share that with others.”

For more information about making a planned gift, please contact Betzy Fry, Development Director for the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, at (503) 725-2865 or betzy.fry@pdx.edu.