Putting Academics First Is Harpers' Goal


Anita and Les Harper

A lot of things have changed since Les Harper '55 (Business Administration) walked the grounds at Sacramento State as a student back in the ‘50s. As a member of the first class at the University's present location, he remembers how they once had only three sidewalks connecting the campus' three buildings.

"The rest of the campus gave us either a dust bowl or a mud bowl depending on the weather," he laughs.

Other things, however, have stayed pretty much the same. Les, like many students today, worked his way through college.

"I did enjoy my time at the school, but I worked most of the time when I was going there," he says. "Therefore, I was not able to participate in a number of the things that I would have liked."

Les recalls the trials and sacrifices to pay for classes and uses those memories as key motivators for him and his wife, Anita, to donate to the Alumni Association Scholarship Program through gifts of appreciated stock and real estate. Though he applauds and respects those students who—like him—work and go to school, he also realizes that too much work can keep students from their main objective: academics.

"When I was going to school years ago, I learned that if you have more time to dedicate to your studies, you do a greater and more lasting service to yourself," Les says. "My last semester, I was able to go to school and not work. As a result, my grades increased tremendously. It really makes a difference."

Anita adds that the scholarships don't make a difference just to students. She feels that giving has enhanced their lives, too.

"I think it's very rewarding to help these young students who need financial help rather than have them hold down two or three jobs," she says. "It makes me feel great that we're able to help that way."

Though not an alumna herself, Anita also appreciates a particular aspect of the scholarship application that speaks to the program's momentum for future generations. It reads that "the recipient will contribute to the success of the University and will graduate to be a productive member of society and an active Alumni Association member."

"I like that last part particularly," Anita says. "I think being an active alumnus is their way of giving back to the University, and I think students would be interested in contributing what they can."

Through the Alumni Association, the Harpers also met Mark Drobny, a member of the University Foundation and lead gift planning volunteer, and attended some of his Estate Planning 101 seminars where they learned about gift options for potential donors.

"That's how we got on track to give what we do for Sac State today," Anita says. "Mark got us in shape, and we took his sessions to heart. That was a big plus."

And as a result of the Harper's generous gifts, one Alumni Scholarship recipient they recently met explained how she was able to achieve a life-changing dream that she otherwise would not have been able to without their help.

Les recalls, "She was the first member of her family that had the opportunity to go to college."

For more information, please contact Lora L. Hollingsworth at (916) 278-6115 or lora.hollingsworth@csus.edu.