ULV gets historic $10 million gift

Natasha Brennan
Staff Writer

The College of Education and Organizational Leadership opened this fall under a new moniker – the LaFetra College of Education – following the largest monetary gift in University of La Verne history.

In May Trustee Anthony LaFetra donated $10 million to the College of Education and Organizational Leadership.

With his gift, the college expects to add learning centers, counseling, scholarships and an array of training.

The grant will also cover a new Intercultural and Multicultural Education Center for Leadership, adding technology training, cultural competence education, learning centers for autistic and special needs students, and more scholarships for undergraduates.

“As a result of this gift, we are able to develop a center for education equity and intercultural research. So through that center we are hoping to elevate our status with regards to being a Hispanic Serving Institution,” said Dean of the LaFetra College of Education Kimberly White-Smith.

White-Smith, who took the helm as dean in July, served previously as a full-time professor and dean of the College of Educational Studies at Chapman University. This is her 13th year in higher education.

“We are in the process of transitioning all of our programs in order to better meet the needs of the families that we serve,” White-Smith said.

“Part of that is embracing our mission to prepare the very best educators, service providers and professionals to support students in every walk of life.”

Thirty percent of California’s superintendents have been awarded their doctorate at the College. To prepare the graduates, the College provides credential and degree programs in child development, special education, school psychology and other curriculum.

More than 280 schools in Southern California are partnered with the college to provide hands-on learning in the classroom and employment to its graduates.

“I think that it’s wonderful, the sphere of influence, that we have been able to provide opportunities for folks to advance in their careers and also knowing that they are developing and directing districts in ways that support the values of La Verne in their schools and communities,” White-Smith said.

Funding will also go towards research, global learning and exchange programs.

“I’m really excited that there will be more funding,” said Lizzette Rodriguez, sophomore educational studies major.

“Some of my professors have mentioned programs that stopped years ago due to cutbacks, and now we have the opportunity to get them back.”

The college already provides a bilingual credential program, the bilingual counseling credential Pupil Personnel Services, serving to develop education counselors to support children and families of migrant workers.

“Right now across the country there is a dearth specifically of educators, counselors, and service providers to support traditionally underserved communities—black and Latino professionals,” said White-Smith.

“This gift helps us to recruit students who fit that particular background and better prepare all of our students to work and serve those students and communities.”

LaFetra, a graduate of Stanford University, grew up in the Glendora Unified School District. As a child, LaFetra had many ULV alumni as teachers.

“I think people can be very successful in their careers, but they’re not always significant in impacting the community,” ULV President Devorah Lieberman said.

“For me, having a donor name the College of Education communicates that educating educators is very important.”

LaFetra joined the ULV Board of Trustees in 2012, following in the footsteps of his mother Mary Elizabeth La Fetra, who served as a Trustee from 1966 to 1982.

In 2005 LaFetra established the LaFetra Family Endowed Chair for Excellence in Teaching and Service at the College.

LaFetra’s sister, Sarah Ludwick, received a master’s degree in child development at ULV.

LaFetra has also served as a member of many non-profit leadership boards and is the current CEO and president of irrigation company Rainbird, one of ULV’s sprinkler providers.

“We do have Rainbird sprinklers in some of the facilities and exterior,” said Raymond West, assistant vice president of facilities.

The LaFetra College of Education continues to serve undergraduates and graduates alike majoring in education and organizational leadership.

“What I think this gift really does is shine a light on the exceptional work that we do,” White-Smith said.

Natasha Brennan can be reached at natasha.brennan@laverne.edu.

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