University of La Verne Receives $10 Million Gift to Establish LaFetra College of Education

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The University of La Verne has received a gift of $10 million from Board of Trustees Member Anthony LaFetra to establish the LaFetra College of Education, institution leaders announced May 27. It is the largest cash donation in the university's 124-year history.

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I know that education transforms lives. My parents, Clem and Mary Elizabeth “Betty” LaFetra, believed strongly in the power of education and in the University of La Verne. - Anthony LaFetra

The University of La Verne has received an unprecedented gift of $10 million from Anthony “Tony” LaFetra. The gift was announced this week by University President Devorah Lieberman and Board of Trustees Chairman Luis Faura. The donation is the largest cash gift in the University’s 124-year history. This gift is most timely as it comes on the brink of the University’s 125th Anniversary year celebrations.

The gift establishes the LaFetra College of Education, adding the University of La Verne to a very small list of named colleges of education, and one of the few at a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The University has a population of Latino students that exceeds 40 percent, and the demographics of the institution’s undergraduate, master, law and doctoral students reflect the diversity of Southern California.

Anthony LaFetra is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and President and CEO of his family-founded business, The Rain Bird Corporation. The family has multigenerational ties to the University of La Verne, where his mother served on the Board of Trustees from 1966 to 1982, and his sister, Sarah Ludwick, is an alumna.

“I know that education transforms lives. My parents, Clem and Mary Elizabeth “Betty” LaFetra, believed strongly in the power of education and in the University of La Verne. My mother served on its Board of Trustees for 16 years,” LaFetra said. “They imparted their passion for education to me, so I dedicate my gift to their legacy of giving, knowing we can impact generations of future teachers and students.”

The University’s College of Education (currently known as the College of Education and Organizational Leadership) already holds the distinction of having awarded approximately 30 percent of California’s superintendents with doctorates. More than 280 school districts across Inland Southern California are partnered with the College, enabling teaching candidates to have direct experience in the classroom and secure employment when they graduate. In the area of education, the university grants bachelor’s degrees in child development and educational studies; teaching credentials; master’s degrees in areas such as child development, special education, and educational counseling; and doctoral degrees in organizational leadership.

“This transformational gift pays tribute to the tremendous impact the University of La Verne’s programs have on the nation’s educational leaders and the students they serve,” said University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman. “Our appreciation of the LaFetra family is unmeasurable. As a result of Mr. LaFetra’s generosity, we will build on the successes already achieved, continuing the College of Education’s reputation as the region’s flagship institution for teacher education.”

Professor of Education Emerita Dr. Peggy Redman, whose family is deeply connected to the city and University of La Verne, said the LaFetras were first drawn to the university after seeing firsthand the results of its teacher education programs. The gift will provide the university one more way to transform students into citizens who will improve their communities, Redman said.

“Sarah Ludwick (Mr. LaFetra’s sister) got involved with the University of La Verne because of the teachers she and her brother had in Glendora when they were children,” Redman said. “Tony’s mother saw the quality of the University of La Verne graduates who were teaching in Glendora and that brought her to the university to become a member and leader on the Board of Trustees.”

The gift will fund several new initiatives, including:

  •     Scholarships for high-achieving undergraduate students with financial need, enabling students to stay in school and graduate in a shorter time;
  •     Faculty training on cultural competence and technology;
  •     Enhancement of the LaFetra Family Endowed Chair for Excellence in Teaching and Service to attract a nationally-recognized leader in teacher education for the position;
  •     Learning centers to support autistic and other special-needs children, as well as their families;
  •     An Intercultural and Multicultural Education Center for leadership, research, global learning, and exchange programs; and,
  •     A counseling and bilingual education initiative focused on children and families of migrant workers.

Luis Faura ’89, Chair of the Board of Trustees, commended Mr. LaFetra family for his dedication to the University of La Verne and the future of teacher education.

“I have a deep respect for Tony LaFetra, witnessing his giving spirit throughout the years I have been connected to the University,” Faura said. “It is an exciting time to be an educator in Southern California, and the University of La Verne will continue to lead the way in preparing passionate teachers and leaders of organizations with this gift.”

About the University of La Verne

Founded in 1891 as a Brethren institution located 35 miles east of Los Angeles, the University of La Verne is a private, nonprofit institution founded on four core values: lifelong learning, ethical reasoning, civic and community engagement, and diversity and inclusivity.

While the University is no longer a religious institution, these values remain an integral part of each student’s university experience. The University of La Verne serves nearly 8,400 students, across 10 campuses, awarding undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and law degrees. Students attending the University of La Verne represent the changing demographics of the State of California and the future demographics of the entire country. More than 40% of the University’s students are the first in their families to attend college. Additionally, 55% of students are from underrepresented populations (43.7% Hispanic, 5.8% African-American, 5.2% Asian, .4% American Indian/Alaskan Native). Nearly all (93.7%) University of La Verne undergraduate students receive institutional financial aid, $43.2 million of which the University of La Verne provides.

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