Dave Dornacker and Jody Spencer

Joy in the Present, Satisfaction in the Future

Alumni in Legacy Society contribute early to their testamentary endowments to see immediate impact. 

In 2018, a letter arrived at the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (UNDAAF) outlining a couple’s intention to leave a gift to UND in their will. Both retired and with no children of their own, Dave Dornacker, ’74, and Jody Spencer, ’84, wanted to leave a meaningful legacy for the next generation at their alma mater.

Their letter led to the establishment of two testamentary scholarship endowments. One would benefit students within the College of Arts & Sciences and the other for those studying occupational therapy. Both scholarships would support LGBTQ+ students or enrolled members of federally recognized Native American Tribes.

There was just one lingering question they had about their future gift. As with any bequest, the scholarships outlined in their will would be funded only after their passing. Could they start making an impact sooner? A conversation with UNDAAF Senior Director of Gift Planning Shane Hersch led to their decision to contribute to their scholarships early.

“If we didn’t decide to intentionally develop and plan for that now, we obviously have no say about it after we’re gone. We thought if we do something now, we might actually get to see some results, which we have,” Jody explained.

We thought if we do something now, we might actually get to see some results, which we have.Jody Spencer, ’841889 Legacy Society Member

While they both had positive experiences at UND that led to full careers – Dave as co-owner of a grain commodity trading company and Jody as an occupational therapist and director of a Minneapolis-based healthcare system – Dave and Jody were very aware of the struggles underserved students often face while earning a college degree and wanted to help.

“It was an enormous adjustment for First Nations students coming from the reservation, particularly with no real support system at the time,” Dave recalled. “Most LGBTQ+ students were still closeted, and support groups were in their infancy.” 

Although they’ve adjusted their will over time, UND has remained a top beneficiary because of the results they’ve experienced from this blended gift: enjoyment that comes from a current gift with the satisfaction of a legacy gift.

“Our first recipient’s thank-you note just about broke our hearts. It was from a single, First Nation mother trying to get her degree. You’ll never read a note as such if you don’t establish your scholarships while you’re living,” Dave said. “If we can help one disenfranchised student feel supported and get past barriers facing them, then we feel we have been successful.”


Planned gifts come in many forms, but they each allow your legacy at UND to be remembered. You can ensure that the University’s mission lives on — today, tomorrow, and forever.