San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Sdsu Donor’s Generosity Revered

BySusan HaineSenior Staff Writer

On his 87th birthday, Bernard Lipinsky’s 4-year-oldgreat-granddaughter sang him “Happy Birthday.” His daughter-in-law,Sheila, then sang him a special Jewish song in celebration.

Five days later, on Christmas Day, the first major donor to SanDiego State died of cancer.

“His last few days were filled with family,” Kathie Ross,university scholarship director, said. “Those two unique gifts ofsong will forever be precious to his daughter-in-law andgreat-granddaughter.”

During his life, Lipinsky donated millions of dollars to differentorganizations in San Diego, including about $2.4 million to San DiegoState.

“His gifts gave us a whole different level with regard toadvancement in philanthropy,” University President Stephen Webersaid.

Lipinsky and his late wife, Dorris, began donating to theuniversity in the early 1980s. In 1985, they funded the LipinskyInstitute of Judaic Studies, a program that was facing eliminationbecause the university was confronting a budget crisis.

The institute now supports two full professorships and a lectureseries, which is dedicated to Dorris. The program allows students tostudy modern Jewish history and Israeli affairs.

After the retirement of SDSU President Thomas B. Day, theLipinskys endowed a Freshman Success Program. This program allowsincoming freshmen to receive tutoring and one-on-one orientation fromfaculty members.

But the donations Lipinsky seemed to cherish most were thescholarships awarded in his name to more than 600 students.

“He did philanthropy on the retail level more than on a wholesalelevel — his real relationship was with the individual students,”Weber said. “It wasn’t like he just wanted to help San Diego State,even though he did. He wanted to help the individual students.”

The scholarships offered in the Lipinsky name are given tostudents of varying circumstances, who would not be able to attendSDSU without this help. It became a tradition for scholarshiprecipients to send the Lipinskys letters of gratitude.

“He kept these letters in scrapbooks and would look at themfrequently,” Lawrence Baron, director of the Lipinsky Institute,said. “Students would write to him and he would see what they haddone with their lives and how the creation of the scholarshipschanged things for them.”

Weber said Lipinsky’s feeling of satisfaction for his generositycame from this feedback.

“Here’s a tough and savvy business man who is moved to tears bylooking at the letters in this album,” he said.

Lipinsky grew up in San Diego, scrambling to make a living, Webersaid.

He attended SDSU in the 1930s, but did not graduate. However, hisson, daughter, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters all graduatedfrom the university.

Once a milkman, Lipinsky and his father ran a chain of jewelrystores. He went on to find his fortune in real estate, and owned theKona Kai Club resort on Shelter Island with his brother.

In 1996, Lipinsky was given an honorary doctorate from SDSU. Hewas the second recipient of such a degree, the first being John F.Kennedy.

Although he was proud of this honor, friends say Lipinsky was veryhumble about his wealth and donations to the university.

“He was not a man who grew up in wealth, and he never acted likehe was an extremely wealthy person,” Baron said. “He was just a verydown-to-earth, nice person. In fact, he was very embarrassed by muchof the attention paid to him.”

Ross said Lipinsky and his wife did not donate for the recognition– they donated to make life better for others.

This is what made the gifts of song by his great-granddaughter anddaughter-in-law so special.

“It’s very special to be able to give to somebody who has somuch,” Ross said. “Those two gifts, which cost nothing, given to aman who gave away millions, two gifts given to him in the last daysof his life were so special because they came from the heart.”

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Sdsu Donor’s Generosity Revered