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Liberal Studies Students to Benefit From Late Faculty Member’s Gift

Ronald Clapper’s Endowment to Fund Scholarships, Research, Study Abroad Opportunities
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A lifelong learner with a passion for art, music and literature, the late Ronald Clapper found a home in Cal State Fullerton’s liberal studies program — a campus hub for interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship. 

Ronald Clapper
Ronald Clapper, lecturer emeritus in liberal studies

The lecturer emeritus in liberal studies served the university from 1974-2011. Throughout his time on campus, Clapper played an instrumental part in the department’s growth. From helping bring in new faculty experts to cultivating a tradition of research excellence, Clapper was passionate about supporting students on their academic journeys.

Clapper, who died in April, was a champion of student and faculty success. During his lifetime, he made a $300,000 gift to the university that will be used to establish an endowment to support such areas as faculty research, conferences, study abroad opportunities and scholarships. 

“His gift will help the department continue to be a place where intellectual curiosity and rigor go hand in hand with sociability and friendship,” said April Bullock, chair and professor of liberal studies.

Bullock added that the endowment will continue to fund opportunities that honor Clapper’s legacy. After his retirement, Clapper gave to such scholarship funds as the Jane Hipolito Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes students for writing outstanding research papers. He also supported departmental conferences that provide faculty and students with opportunities to network and engage with a variety of research topics.

As the department grows, Bullock said the endowment will be paramount to ensuring that faculty and students have the resources they need in the future. 

Liberal Studies Professor April Bullock speaks with student Michelle Ramirez
April Bullock, chair and professor of liberal studies

In the liberal studies program, students become critical thinkers and problem solvers whose research integrates knowledge from the humanities, arts, natural sciences and social sciences. They are mentored by faculty experts with diverse research backgrounds that include such areas as music aesthetics, theory and religion, literature and science, and the history of food and culture. 

“Students come to this program for many reasons. For future educators, liberal studies provides solid academic preparation for multiple subject and education specialist career paths,” Bullock said. “We prepare them for the challenges of the workforce.” 

Bullock noted that one of the unique parts of the program is the interdisciplinary thematic emphasis, which allows students to create a personalized education plan complete with courses that cater to their interests and career goals. 

Since the program was established in the 1970s, thousands of students have graduated with majors in liberal studies, said Bullock. Alumni of the program have gone on to become educators, lawyers, musicians, entrepreneurs and leaders in their respective fields. 

Empowered by a liberal studies education, Joel Thayer ’11 (B.A. liberal studies) went on to earn his J.D. and become an attorney in Washington, D.C. Throughout his career, the CSUF alumnus has represented a myriad of clients, including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, and has been featured in high-profile publications like The Wall Street Journal. 

Reflecting on the success of the program and looking forward to its future endeavors, Bullock said that Clapper’s legacy will always be a part of the department and his gift will further its success for years to come. 

“His intellectual curiosity and rigor, combined with a gentle and warm demeanor, set a standard that we will keep alive in our department and academic program,” she said.

Taylor Arrey