Alumni Spotlight: Bill ’82 and Kathy Lewis
Couple inspire, encourage scholars to pursue opportunities made possible through annual gifts
For every dollar that Bill ’82 and Kathy Lewis contribute to Cal State L.A., they know that the University will get twice as much in return.
That’s because the Lewises have been able to capitalize on a corporate matching program offered through Kathy Lewis’ work. Her parent company, Novartis, will match up to $5,000 a year in an individual’s contributions to an educational organization.
“We have been able to enhance our giving through this program,” Kathy Lewis said. “It allows for our dollars to go further, so we don’t have to pick and choose. We can help students whether they are three years old or 25 years old.”
Most of the Lewises’ giving and volunteer work, they said, is channeled through organizations that support education and community. Education, in particular, is important to the couple because it “creates opportunities” that have the possibility to transform lives. While at Cal State L.A., Bill Lewis said he not only received a top-notch education but he built life-long friendships through the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
“It really enhances your ability to better yourself and hopefully be a better person,” said Bill Lewis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management.
As an older student, pursuing a second degree and working while doing it, Bill said he can relate to the situation so many Cal State L.A. students find themselves in. For them, financial support can often mean the difference between having time to study and pass a class, and dropping out of school.
“I was very fortunate and I’m very thankful for that,” Kathy said. “I was able to get my degree and graduate without any student loans. But, not everyone has that opportunity.”
In recent years, the Lewises have focused their giving at Cal State L.A., supporting some the University’s highest-achieving students through the President’s Associates. Â The University’s premier giving level, the President’s Associates supports scholarships for students in the Honors College and President’s Scholars program.
“It really appealed to us to be able to target students who were high achievers and needed a little extra help in getting their college degree because the opportunities that we are able to give them mean something,” Bill said.
Another reward of giving, the couple notes, is a strengthened connection to the University and broader knowledge of all that is available to students today.
“We are so much more aware of how much Cal State L.A. is doing with focuses in biotechnology, engineering, nursing, teaching and more,” Bill said. “And we are able to take that and share it with our friends.”