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Doug and Hilda Bourne make $2 million
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Doug and Hilda Bourne met as OU students and now are making it possible for promising women engineers to earn their OU degrees through a $2 million gift to the Gallogly College of Engineering.

Doug and Hilda Bourne have been down every road together, surviving a world war, building a thriving business, and raising two daughters. Now, the University of Oklahoma chemical engineering graduate and his bride of 74 years are making it easier for promising women engineers to find their own path.

The couple recently established the Douglas and Hilda Bourne Scholarship with a $2 million gift to the OU Foundation. The gift will someday provide 20 $5,000 annual scholarships for outstanding female students in the Gallogly College of Engineering.

"Doug and Hilda Bourne have demonstrated their passion for women pursuing degrees and careers in the areas of engineering and applied science," said Gallogly College Dean Thomas Landers. "What a lasting impact this investment will make in the lives of so many women who will become graduates of this great university. They will be innovation- and change-makers in our world."

Doug’s own engineering education was unique to the World War II era in which he and Hilda met as OU students. "I wound up my degree in chemical engineering in a very short period of time," he said. "Everything was double pressure."

As one of more than 700 participants in OU’s V-12 Navy College Training Program, Doug was an apprentice seaman who would graduate as a Navy officer in spring 1944. He and Hilda were engaged and graduation was in sight when Doug received notice that he was being sent immediately to Midshipmen’s School.

"There was one more paper that I had to turn in to graduate," he said. "Hilda’s very bright, so I left her with a bunch of magazines and articles and told her, ‘You have to write me a final paper in metallurgy.’ Hilda didn’t even know what metallurgy was," Doug laughed. "I didn’t think anything more about it, but my article appeared in the college’s engineering magazine about two months later."

Doug and Hilda married as soon as possible and were assigned to Miami. After only four days, the couple was sent to Syracuse, N.Y. Money was scarce, and Hilda’s limited wardrobe didn’t include any clothes that could withstand an upstate winter. She wore Doug’s military-issue sweatsuit almost every day for a month. "I nearly froze to death," she said.

Doug was deployed to the Pacific Theater on a destroyer escort for the remainder of the war. "When the war ended, all I knew how to do was to operate a destroyer," he said. The Bournes already had welcomed one child, and Hilda was pregnant with a second when Doug landed a job in international mining with the Duval Corp. He learned the business from the bottom up and became president and, eventually, CEO and chairman. In the 1980s, Duval produced the spin-off Battle Mountain Gold Co., where Doug served until his 1990 retirement.

Though the Bournes already had generously established an OU chair in chemical, materials and biological engineering, Doug said that their latest gift is personal. "I’m married to a pretty remarkable lady, and I have two very, very fine daughters," he explained. "I thought if I could stimulate an interest in engineering for female students, I will have performed a service for them and for the public."