The Gemperle Spirit of Giving Typifies CSU Alumni Generosity
Story Philanthropy

The Gemperle Spirit of Giving Typifies CSU Alumni Generosity



The Gemperle Spirit of Giving Typifies CSU Alumni Generosity

For the fourth consecutive year, the California State University has seen an upsurge in philanthropic support, with the system reaching a record-breaking $314.7 million in contributions. The Gemperle family’s recent quarter-million-dollar investment in CSU Stanislaus typifies the surge of generosity and record-breaking spike in charitable giving by alumni and friends.

According to CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, “The future of the California State University is bright because of the continued support of our donors. This generosity continues to power our campuses and provide a future that creates new opportunities to build great things, discover new ideas and embrace diversity in all its forms, and a future that brings together all stakeholders to make certain that all Californians have access to quality higher education that forever changes lives, families and communities.”

The Gemperle family’s gift is the result of a long-standing family tradition of philanthropic giving that began with the late Ernie and Annemarie Gemperle and continues today through their seven adult children – brothers Michael, Peter, Richard and Stephen, and sisters Anita Mahaffey, Heidi Gemperle, and Susan Abdo.

“As far back as I can remember, my parents had been funding presidential scholarships,” said Stephen Gemperle, president of Gemperle Family Farms and member of the CSU Stanislaus Foundation Board. “Both my parents were strong advocates for education. In addition to funding the presidential scholarships, our father funded various donations in our mother’s name. He also was instrumental in helping to develop the agricultural education program, contributed to the business school, and was very involved in many aspects of campus life.”

Originally from Switzerland, the Gemperles believed that education empowers people and changes the world for the better. “They understood the importance of education and its ability to transform lives and communities. As immigrants, they realized how knowledge is power, and together with ambition and a formal education, it can change a person’s life,” said Susan Abdo.

Reflecting on his family’s educational history, Stephen said, “The majority of us (my siblings and I) attended public higher education institutions. If it were not for the state university systems, it would have been much harder on our parents financially to send us all to college. We are thankful to the CSU campuses and public universities for giving us that opportunity.”

He added, “CSU Stanislaus is a gem in this valley. First- and second-generation families are given an opportunity to earn college degrees. At commencement, the university president will often ask: ‘How many of you are the first in your family to graduate from college?’ and well over 50 percent stand up. That’s the true impact of CSU Stanislaus and the CSU system. Our family has always been a huge advocate of education, and we have committed ourselves to improve the lives of those who have not had as many opportunities as we have. We watched our parents contribute to CSU Stanislaus and the community. Giving back is part of our ethos as a family. We were taught to share what we have been given. And that is what we have practiced as a family for decades.”

Growing up locally and contributing to the success of Gemperle Family Farms, the siblings have watched the region grow and recognize the impact of CSU Stanislaus graduates.

“We believe that giving opportunities to these students helps them to become greater contributors to the community after they graduate,” Stephen said. “This is an important investment that will benefit local businesses, the education of the workforce and the creation of a vibrant economy.”

In addition to their participation in the One Purpose campaign, the Gemperle siblings also have created a memorial scholarship and endowment fund in the name of their mother, and a valedictorian scholarship in their father’s name.

According to Shirley Pok, vice president for University Advancement at CSU Stanislaus, “This gift from the Gemperle family will provide us with the opportunity to impact a greater number of students in the future and will strengthen our efforts to support student success. We are so honored by having the Gemperle siblings as a part of our One Purpose story. Their support will endure for years to come.”

Speaking on behalf of the entire CSU system, Garrett P. Ashley, vice chancellor of University Relations and Advancement, said, “Charitable gifts made by our alumni, community and business partners show us that they share in our mission of boosting student success to prepare California’s future leaders.”

Highlights of this year’s philanthropic report include:

  • $21.5 million for student scholarships
  • $49.1 million for academic enrichment
  • $12.6 million for applied research
  • $1.9 million for faculty support
  • $2.6 million for library resources
  • $18.4 million for CSU athletic programs
  • $32.9 million for public service programs
  • $1.4 million for facility improvements
  • $39.3 million for additional university priorities

Chancellor White added, “Our supporters and friends are ensuring our future, and for that we are thankful. But we’re not done yet. Today’s gifts lead to tomorrow’s victories. Together, the CSU and its supporters help pave the way for new advancements in learning, academic enrichment and financial aid. Philanthropic giving inspires academic achievement, faculty excellence and athletic success.”



Pictured together on the CSU Stanislaus Turlock campus from left to right are Michael Gemperle, Stephen Gemperle, Susan Abdo, Anita Mahaffey, Richard Gemperle, Heidi Gemperle and Peter Gemperle.

Alumni; Student Success; Chancellor