1997 Grinnell grad takes stock in what the College meant to him

June 16, 2020 — Coming from Norway sight unseen, Endre Veka’s first impression of Grinnell College was a bit ominous.

During his flight into Des Moines the 1997 alumnus saw water everywhere from the summer floods of 1993. It was dark by the time he got to Grinnell, so he felt like he had no idea where he was or what he had gotten himself into.

Endre Veka '97
    Endre Veka ’97

“It was a surreal introduction,” he says. “I was thinking maybe I’ll give it a year and then go back to Norway to finish college. But soon enough I met a lot of really nice people and had some great professors.”

Despite the inauspicious start, Veka enjoyed his four years at Grinnell. A technical program manager at Intel in Portland, Oregon, Veka fondly recalls the closeness between Grinnell students and faculty. A physics and economics double major, he treasured physics professor Bill Case inviting him over to his house for Friday night dinners and the long conversations that ensued. He also had had a close relationship with his economics advisor, Brad Bateman. They continue to stay in touch today.

“Grinnell was a massive contrast to my graduate school experience at Wisconsin where I had no relationship with the professors,” Veka says. “I learned pretty quickly that the Grinnell experience is definitely unique.”

Veka has made a number of gifts to Grinnell over the years in support of the Pioneer Fund and financial aid to provide similar Grinnell experiences to current and future students. He and his wife, Clay, have made gifts eight different times using appreciated stock.

“Appreciated stock is great for us as a giving vehicle and it allows us to go a little further in giving than donating cash would,” Veka says. “Also appreciation is a tax liability if you use those funds. By giving it away, it turns into a tax benefit.”

As a student, Veka spent a fair amount of time at the climbing wall and partook in Grinnell Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) happenings. He taught climbing courses in addition to a wide range of campus jobs.

“I really enjoyed the array of opportunities outside of the 8:30 to 5 class time,” Veka says, citing GORP, international films in ARH, and attending all types of concerts, including some well-known bands. “It’s an incredible variety of offerings for students. I’ve continued supporting Grinnell to make sure the College has the resources and backing financially to offer these types of events and activities.”

A dual citizen of Norway and the United States, Veka and his family are spending a year in Norway just outside of Oslo. Like most everyone else, they are staying at home to help flatten the curve of the global pandemic.

While growing up in Norway, Veka went to the U.S. every other summer to visit his grandparents in Kentucky. His grandmother, Alberta L. Coleman ’35, grew up in Iowa and attended Grinnell, as did her brother, Norton Nelson ’39.

Veka has worked at Intel Corp. for 18 years, providing yet another Grinnell connection. Robert Noyce ’49 co-founded the corporation. Veka has designed mobile phones that are sold in Europe and India and tablets sold in the U.S. He’s managed software products in the U.S., German, and Chinese markets. Additionally, he’s run projects related to e-learning, medical image recognition, and license plate processing.

“Intel has let me try different things despite not having a direct education in that field,” Veka says. “I’ve gotten to try my hand at a bunch of things without being boxed into any one career.”

Outside of work, Veka enjoys mountain biking, back-country skiing, and watching his kids take part in soccer, ballet, and other endeavors. He served on the board of directors at the Portland Mountain Rescue and volunteers as a rescuer for lost or injured mountain climbers. Veka once met a Grinnellian at the summit of Mount Hood.

“Grinnellians tend to show up in a lot of different places,” Veka says. “Even here in a Norwegian small town, I’ve found Grinnell connections. I can’t get far without running into someone with ties to Grinnell.”

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

To learn more about appreciated stock gifts contact Buddy Boulton, Grinnell College director of planned giving, at boultonb@grinnell.edu or 641-269-3248.