Donald and Sally Lucas

Donald and Sally Lucas

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – Donald and Sally Lucas — distinguished alumni, business leaders and philanthropists — will each receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San José State University Honors Convocation on April 20 at the Event Center.

“Through generously sharing their time, talent and resources, Donald and Sally Lucas play formative roles in the development of our university and our community,” President Mo Qayoumi said. “Their decision to move forward very early in our comprehensive campaign with a leadership gift inspired many others, forever elevating philanthropy at San José State.”

In 2006, Donald and Sally Lucas made a $10 million gift in support of the College of Business. Their commitment afforded San José State the opportunity to pursue excellence in its graduate programs by hiring world-class instructors, funding faculty research, and raising the standards and performance of students at what we now call the Donald and Sally Lucas Graduate School of Business.

“We feel that our experiences at San José State contributed greatly to our success in business and in our personal lives,” the Lucases said. “We have very fond memories of our time at the university and are grateful for the opportunities we had. With this gift, we want to help make it possible for future generations to benefit from an excellent education, and prosper in this valley the way we have.”

Donald and Sally Lucas

Donald Lucas was the founder of the Lucas Dealership Group, one of the first multiple franchise automobile companies in the country. From 1964 to 2000, Lucas owned more than 40 different dealerships in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Monterey and Hawaii. Throughout his career, Donald represented 33 separate manufacturers, both imported and domestic.

By 1999, the Lucas Dealership Group had grown to become one of the top 25 automobile companies in the country with 900 employees and producing close to $500 million in sales annually. In 2000, Donald sold the Lucas Dealership Group Corporation, retaining most of the real estate holdings subsequently sold in 2011. He currently heads Lucas Trust Ventures, which oversees the real estate and private investment holdings.

It all began just seven blocks from the university where Donald, then a junior attending SJSU, opened his first used car lot to help pay for his education. Donald graduated from SJSU in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Sally graduated from SJSU in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in education. As a young teacher, she recognized that creative thinking was the most important part of education, and what she enjoyed the most.

Sally, who owned and operated SL Interior Designs for 34 years, is a prominent local philanthropist with a passion for the arts. She was the first woman president of the board at the Montalvo Arts Center, and was the motivating force behind the establishment of the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program.  She remains a Montalvo trustee emeritus and a strong supporter of the residency, which has earned international recognition for fostering new and challenging contemporary works in all genres.

Sally was instrumental in creating The Butter Paddle gourmet kitchen shop for Eastfield Junior Auxiliary (now EMQ Families First), and she is a National Tropical Botanical Garden fellow. A very challenging volunteer job after college was serving as president of the Northern California Panhellenic Conference during a period when fraternities and sororities were leaving college campuses.  Sally is also a golf enthusiast and former club champion.

Well-known for their philanthropy, particularly for their strong interest in the arts and programs for disadvantaged youths, the couple’s charitable work includes: Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose; Arts Council Silicon Valley; YWCA Villa Nueva; YMCA; Boy Scouts; Symphony Silicon Valley; San Jose Museum of Art; Ballet San Jose; The Summit League; Hoover Institution; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Monterey Bay Aquarium; The First Tee of Monterey County; Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula; Hospice Foundation of Monterey; Monterey Museum of Art; Honolulu Academy of Art/Contemporary Art Museum; and North Hawaii Community Hospital.

Honors Convocation

Over 3,000 undergraduates who earned a GPA of 3.65 or higher in at least two contiguous semesters of the three prior semesters will be eligible to participate in this annual ceremony at 4:30 p.m. April 20 in the Event Center.

San José State University — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.