LSU 2012 Philanthropist of the Year ~ Jerry & Diane McKernan
Jerry McKernan attended LSU on a basketball scholarship in 1955, which would spark a love for LSU that lasted a lifetime and ensured his eventual induction into the LSU Hall of Distinction. He came to Baton Rouge from Chicago, Illinois. Upon graduating LSU, he attended Law School at Tulane and graduated in 1963. He then began a distinguished law career with a personal goal of “bringing justice to the wronged.”
Diane Lowe built a successful career first in real estate and then in law book sales. Jerry and Diane met while he was expanding his law library, and in 1988 they married. Diane managed the McKernan Law Firm, allowing Jerry to devote his time to practicing law. As their resources grew, they established the McKernan Foundation as a vehicle for their statewide philanthropy.
The McKernans have supported numerous charitable organizations. The LSU Law Center, the Tiger Athletic Foundation, and the University Laboratory School, have significantly benefitted from their generosity.
Believing that the Lab School is an incubator that promotes educational and athletic excellence, it was an easy decision for Jerry and Diane to wholeheartedly give time and resources to the school. In 2003, they donated a major lead gift to the school’s capital campaign, which in turn inspired others to give and facilitated sufficient funding for the school to begin renovations of the high school academic wing. Four of their five children and 13 of 16 grandchildren have attended the Lab School.
Exceeding its $5 million goal, the school leadership saw an opportunity to expand the campus. The McKernans responded to the school’s stretch goal of $6.5 million with another major gift that helped create a performing arts and athletics building. It now bears the name Pennington McKernan Gymnasium and Multipurpose Facility.
The LSU College of Education extends its utmost gratitude to Diane and Jerry McKernan for their generous support of the University Laboratory School.
In loving memory of Jerry McKernan
September 23, 1936 – April 20, 2012