Ridgefield Residents Donate $1.25 Million To Danbury's WestConn

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Ridgefield residents Erland and Irene Hagman made a $1.25 million donation to WCSU in Danbury.
Ridgefield residents Erland and Irene Hagman made a $1.25 million donation to WCSU in Danbury. Photo Credit: File

DANBURY, Conn. -- A Ridgefield couple has pledged a $1.25 million gift to Danbury's Western Connecticut State University that could grow to $1.65 million within the next five years if certain goals are met. 

A portion of Erland and Irene Hagman's donation will be allocated to endow full scholarships in the names of their daughters, who are WestConn graduates. The remaining funds are an unrestricted gift to the university. 

“With the Hagmans’ leadership, we will continue to grow and to invest in our students.” WestConn President James W. Schmotter said in a statement. “This generous act says to our students that they are right to believe in themselves, and that others expect them to do great things with their lives.”

The annual full scholarships will be to a psychology and biochemistry student. Veronica Hagman was a psychology major who died in her senior year. She was awarded a degree posthumously. Melissa Hagman graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and pursues a career in the pharmaceutical field.

“I want to show support to the president and to the future vision of the university. I know they will do great things with our contributions and make this a world-class university,” Erland Hagman said in a statement.

“With the scholarships, I want to assist young, striving individuals in perpetuity, to get an education they otherwise would possibly not have been able to afford. My goal for this pledge is to invest in our future — in the education of our children. I also want to inspire other community leaders to invest in our local university by setting a higher bar for giving to WCSU.”

Hagman is founder and owner of Ergotech Inc., a producer of ergonomic factory equipment in Danbury. He earned an M.S.E.E from Lund University in his native Sweden, an MBA from Pace University and a doctorate from Northeastern University. He worked for Asea Brown Boveri and Curtis Instruments before launching his own firm. 

“I would not describe myself as a wealthy individual, but more as a fortunate immigrant businessman, who not only wants to show my gratitude to President Schmotter and to his staff and to the university for the support during the dark period when my daughter passed some nine years ago, but also to demonstrate our strong belief in education and in the future of this university,” Hagman said. “Both my daughters received excellent educations at Western, and I would like this gift to help other young people to have the same access to the university’s wonderful professors and programs as my children did. I know from my own life experience that education is a critical key component that will allow an individual to rise to their greatest potential.”

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