Online grad makes $4M donation to Saint Leo University
Thumbs up to Don Tapia, both for going back to school at age "in his 60s" to earn his BA and MBA, and for being so generous with his hard-earned money.  

Something for higher ed cartel fund raisers to ponder: Online students--who might otherwise not have had access to higher education--are perhaps even more appreciative of the opportunity provided by their beloved alma mater than are traditional cheeks-in-seats students.  Provide a valuable service and students may be more inclined to express their gratitude with profuse donations.

Quote:Online grad makes $4M donation to Saint Leo University
Reported by: Meredyth Censullo
Last Update: 4/30 9:18 am  

SAINT LEO, FL -- Don Tapia has a rags-to-riches life story. He grew up in a rough neighborhood in Detroit and eventually joined the Air Force, citing it was his only way out of the Michigan slums. While in the Air Force he studied flight control, which later led him to a job as an air traffic controller. Eventually Tapia’s entrepreneurial spirit would lead him to start his own business, Essco Wholesale Electric Inc., outside Phoenix. He began by selling supplies to contractors, and eventually built a multi-million dollar wholesale company - the largest Hispanic owned company in the state of Arizona, according to the Hispanic Business 500 list for 2008.

Although Tapia was a successful businessman, he had only a high school degree. But he always preached the value of an education to his grandchildren.

Tapia - then in his 60s - decided to return to college, and opted to enroll in the Center for Online Learning at Saint Leo University. For 38 months, Tapia arrived to work early and left at 3 p.m. to take courses online. It took him three-and-a-half years to earn a bachelor’s degree.  During that time neither his family nor friends knew that he was taking classes online.  In fact, just prior to boarding a plane for commencement at Saint Leo in 2005, Tapia mailed his family letters announcing his achievement. He went on to earn his Master of Business Administration degree in 2007 through the graduate online offering at Saint Leo’s School of Business.

Now, as a thank you to Saint Leo, Tapia has donated $4 million to the university.  His gift - the largest single gift in the school’s history––will be used to help construct a state-of-the-art facility that will house the university’s School of Business.  The building will be named in appreciation of Tapia.

The facility will add 50,000 square feet to the university’s main campus, housing nine additional classrooms, a large lecture hall/board room, computer labs, and a broadcast technology suite.  The building is set to open in time to welcome students for the fall 2011 semester.

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