The Hoeft Family and Endowment

Sharing the proceeds of my success gives me great pleasure. In fact, people who have not discovered the joy of sharing and helping others, especially students, have not yet lived life to the fullest.Leonard C. Hoeft

Foundations of the Program

Leonard C. (BS, Business ’47) and Mary Lou Hoeft have made generous gifts to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to endow The Hoeft Technology & Management (T&M) Program. The T&M Program is a course of study leading to a University Minor in which undergraduate engineering and business students learn together without sacrificing disciplinary depth in their major fields of study.
In 1995, the Hoefts made a $1 million gift that helped implement the T&M Program, which welcomed its first class of 28 students in the fall of that year. Since that time, subsequent gifts from the Hoefts have established endowed chairs and endowed professorships in the College of Business and College of Engineering.


History of the Hoeft Family

Born and raised in Illinois, Leonard and Mary Lou Hoeft met at Sycamore High School. After initially enrolling at Northern Illinois, Mr. Hoeft transferred to the University of Illinois in 1941. He served in the Army from 1943-45, first enrolling in the Army Specialized Training Program at William and Mary, where he took accelerated courses in engineering before going to Europe with the 95th Infantry Division.

After the war he returned home, married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou, and returned to the University to complete his business management degree. He began his career with Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, Illinois. He moved through the ranks at Caterpillar, and in 1954, joined Ziegler Inc. in Minneapolis.

Ziegler Inc., also known as Ziegler Cat, is the Upper Midwest’s largest dealer of Caterpillar and other makes of construction equipment. When Mr. Hoeft joined the company, there were a little over 100 employees with four stores in Minnesota. Today, Ziegler Inc. has over 1,100 employees and 17 locations. Mr. Hoeft served a variety of roles with the company, including president, CEO, and chairman.