The Gift of Knowledge

training centerUlla Lotta Wiik was born in the land of the Nobel Prize, the smorgasbord and minimalist design. Although she has lived in California for decades, her ties to Sweden and Europe run deep as reflected in her recent gift to San Diego State University.

The endowed gift of $200,000 will support student exchanges and collaborative scholarly research to strengthen SDSU’s international programs in languages, regional studies and international business. In appreciation, a 500-seat auditorium in the College of Arts and Letters has been named for Wiik.

“I believe that anyone who wants to visit another country and learn another language should be able to take advantage of it,” she said. The Campaign for SDSU has raised $665 million of the $750-million target. Donor support is strengthening academic programs and student success initiatives while driving SDSU toward its goal of breaking into the ranks of the top 50 U.S. public research universities.

Wiik’s gift also supports the university’s goal to increase student participation in international experiences, such as study abroad and internationally based internships. SDSU ranks No. 15 in the country for the number of students studying abroad in the latest Institute for International Education’s Open Doors report. More than 2,100 students have international experiences each year, choosing from nearly 400 programs in 67 countries.

“International experiences, such as the ones made possible by Ulla Lotta Wiik’s most generous gifts, make great things possible and ensure the continuous and ever growing success of students and faculty in our globalized world,” said Norma Bouchard, dean of SDSU’s College of Arts and Letters.

Wiik and her first husband, Einar Wiik, have already contributed much to the San Diego region’s economic success. In 1991, they relocated their business, Standard Filter Corp., from Los Angeles to Carlsbad. Operating from its 30,000-square-foot headquarters there, the company is a world leader in filter bag manufacturing for the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Wiik is chair and her son, Toby, is president and CEO.