Story Philanthropy

San Jose State University Donor Lupe Diaz Compean: Witnessing Her Living Legacy of Student Scholarship and Service

Lorraine Crawford


The Ramiro Compean and Lupe Diaz Compean Student Union at San Jose State University


​​​Lupe Diaz and her late husband Ramiro Compean had been considering making a generous gift to San Jose State University (SJSU) since the mid-90s. When Ramiro died in 2002, Lupe advised SJSU that it would be the beneficiary of half of their estate. A decade had passed when she realized, why not experience the impact of her and Ramiro's legacy while she was still alive?

Now, just shy of her 91st birthday, Mrs. Compean is seeing the fruition of her living legacy. Last year, she donated $15 million to the university, the largest gift SJSU has ever received.  In honor of the Compeans' support, SJSU renamed its newly renovated and expanded student center The Ramiro Compean and Lupe Diaz Compean Student Union.

Fittingly, the building serves the students whose scholarship and student success programs the Compeans are now funding -- three $1 million endowments for merit scholarships for high-performing students; for guardian scholarships for emancipated foster youth; and for California Dream Act students. More than 500 organizations and programs designed to assist student success are centered in the student center, which was expanded from 140,000 to 235,000 square feet.


​Lupe Diaz Compean was born in Texas, the oldest in a family of ten children. She married Ramiro Compean in 1955, moving to San Jose the following year, where Ramiro worked for a construction company building houses in Saratoga. Throughout the years, the couple successfully invested in real estate, and Lupe still actively manages the properties she owns.

While Mrs. Compean never earned a college degree herself, she and her late husband believed very strongly in the importance and value of education for success. SJSU Vice President for University Advancement Paul Lanning said, "Clearly, Mrs. Compean is a great example for students, exemplifying how they can persevere, through hard work and diligence, and succeed against all barriers."

The Compeans' gifts are aimed at supporting student-focused programs that give students the opportunity to pursue their own paths and shoot for their dreams. The beautiful, light-filled student center building may be the concrete symbol of their bequest; but the hundreds, if not thousands, students touched by the couple's generosity are a living legacy to behold for generations.