Shiley's Legacy: Benefactress Reflects on 10th Anniversary

Shiley's Legacy: Benefactress Reflects on 10th Anniversary

Darlene Marcos ShileyDarlene Marcos Shiley

Engineering … the lifeblood of civilization! Where would we be without big ideas, innovation and creation to advance the wellbeing of humankind with all its colors and denominations? Life in general is about building blocks. And there lies the importance of the gifts engineers bring to us: from the size and strength of buildings and bridges to the smallest medical devices like heart valves.

As we enter the 10th anniversary year of the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, we recall that the University of San Diego had a well-functioning engineering department. Yet we needed more. To further that field of study and to honor the accomplishments of my late husband, Donald Shiley, I agreed we needed a School of Engineering — to show we valued this education, the talent (God given and learned) these powerful students had.

Donald was the perfect example of all those talents. So, who was he? As a child, his family moved around the Northwest, picking fruit wherever they could; his right hand was severely burned in a home cooking accident; he started college (working several jobs along the way) but couldn’t afford to continue; became a master machinist; joined the Navy in a specialized program; returned to a Catholic university on a chemistry scholarship and the G.I. Bill funding; graduated with honors in mechanical engineering; ultimately became a biomedical engineer, formed his own company and invented a state-of-the-art artificial tilting disc heart valve that saved over 400,000 lives!

When we announced the gift that would establish the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, one of the students came up to me, glowing with excitement, and thanked us for giving her the opportunity to be in the first class that would graduate from a named school that recognized tomorrow’s engineers could come from anywhere to USD and have the opportunity to grow our world. Did that make my day? Absolutely!

Since the official launch of USD's Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering in 2013, under the stellar leadership of Dean Chell Roberts, we have grown our total number of undergraduate engineering students from approximately 200 to 800. We have added computer science and integrated engineering as new majors, along with an initiative in entrepreneurship. We have increased our full-time faculty members from 16 to more than 40. And we have added five new graduate degree programs. Our facilities were renovated and now include innovative spaces such as the Ideation Space, the machine shop, and, of course, Donald's Garage.

We are all Shiley proud!

— Darlene Marcos Shiley

This story is from the Fall 2022 issue of I3@USD magazine.