Getting Giving

by Mary Gordon Spence

They come from homes where parents have never been to college—and from homes where parents have advanced degrees. Their reasons for choosing Southwestern are as varied as their interests and backgrounds. They arrive on campus with a sense of wonder and excitement. They are exposed to new ideas from literature and professors who enrich their lives. They graduate and celebrate, and off they go—Southwestern Alumni.

They take with them good friends, life partners, mentors—people who will keep in touch and who will surprise them at reunions (‘YOU have kids?!’), people who will be at their side, decades later, to help them weather crises.

They give to Southwestern for many different reasons. They want to support the future of the university that helped shape them. They give so that Southwestern can continue to provide enriching experiences for future students. They give because Southwestern is still a part of who they are, because it’s where they found their life’s ambition, life partner, or just their sense of what’s possible.

Although not eager to claim the limelight, alumni Blake ’81 and Kristi Boerner Stanford ’83, Lorri White ’92, and Beverly Stiegler Parker ’59 graciously allowed us a glimpse into their lives, sharing some of the good and bad advice that they’ve received along the way, and insight into why they support Southwestern.

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Blake ’81 and Kristi Boerner ’83 Stanford

Andrew Loehman

Giving & Getting Advice

Best advice you ever got:
Blake, from his greatgrandfather Lee Frederick Worley: ‘Don’t smoke, don’t drink; get a good education.’
Kristi, from her dad: Don’t talk about yourself too much; always be the listener.

Did they follow it?
Blake: One out of three isn’t bad!
Kristi: Yes.

Worst advice you ever got:
Kristi, from the two important men in her life (who shall go unnamed): Break your lease. It won’t matter.

Did she take the advice?
Unfortunately, yes–and she got sued.

The best advice they ever gave was to their children:
Kristi: Be nice; be decent and honest; be fair.
Blake: He passed along his great-granddaddy’s advice.

What brings you the greatest joy?
Kristi: Watching my kids in their activities.
Blake: Learning new things.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
Kristi: Grew up with a big Mexican burro named Dulce in her Alamo Heights backyard.

Favorite place in Texas:
Their family ranch, half-way between Utopia and Vanderpool.

Kristi Boerner learned about Southwestern University from her dentist. Blake Stanford followed several of his friends from Midland to Georgetown. They met during the summer of 1979 through Blake’s roommate when Kristi was taking a math class (“remedial math!” Blake reminds us) prior to her freshman year. Since that time their lives have been intertwined, sharing a love of family, travel, work, community involvement—and a deep appreciation of their days at Southwestern University.

Both came to Southwestern heavily influenced by Latin American culture. Kristi grew up in San Antonio; Blake lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Managua, Nicaragua as a child. Blake majored in Political Science/Economics and Spanish; Kristi majored in International Studies with concentration in Spanish and she studied in Spain for a semester. They both were active in campus Greek life—Kristi as an Alpha Delta Pi, and Blake as a Kappa Sigma.

As it is with so many Southwestern students whose siblings join them on campus, Blake’s brother, Craig, followed his big brother’s lead. At SU, Craig also pledged Kappa Sigma. “He became my brother-brother,” jokes Blake.

It was as a member of Student Foundation, a select group of students who promoted the welfare of the University, that Blake got his first taste of fundraising for Southwestern. “We used to call up alumni and ask them for money,” he says.

Kristi adds that it was easy for Blake to make those calls, even back then. “I think he could be a professional fundraiser when he retires,” she muses.

In that respect, nothing has changed with Stanford since his student days. Today, as a Class Agent and as a grateful former student he’s still bold about asking people to contribute to his alma mater. He also serves as the president of the Kappa Sigma Housing Corporation and is a member of the Alumni Council of the Association of Southwestern Alumni. “We give to Southwestern University because we believe in its mission and values,” says Stanford, “and we want to see [the University] succeed.”

Blake spends his days running the business that he started with Southwestern University classmate, Karen Rocha ’82, in 1985. The pair came up with the idea for their company while working for the Texas Department of Human Resources. “Southwest Human Development Services recruits, trains, monitors and reimburses family childcare providers for meals,” explains Blake. “It’s kind of like the school lunch program.”

Like her father and her grandfather, Kristi is a part of her family’s Culligan Water business in San Antonio, overseeing the human resources aspect of the company. Several days each week, she travels to San Antonio. Other days she works from her home.

No matter where her work takes her during the day, Kristi makes a beeline home to support the Stanford children in their after-school activities. Daughter Kate, 14, will attend Austin ISD’s Fine Arts Academy at McCallum High School in the fall, and son Mitchell, 9, attends Highland Park Elementary School. Dad Blake is the president of Highland Park’s PTA.

Kristi and Blake Stanford are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this year. As they survey their accomplishments and their happy times together during the last two decades, they are ever mindful that Southwestern University is where it all began. So when Kristi says that “giving to Southwestern is personal,” she really means it.

Lorri White ’92

Robert Seale

Giving & Getting Advice

Best advice she ever got was from her high school drill team teacher:
Take the floor! (Present yourself so you instill a sense of respect.)

Did she follow it?

The best advice she ever gave was to her brother:
A problem is like a big ball of string. You can’t stick your hand in there to get it unraveled; you look for loose ends and start peeling things back.

What brings you the greatest joy?
Family, friends, finding beauty in simple things.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
On a trip to Italy, Lorri looked down the barrel of a cement kiln and thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

Favorite place beyond Texas:
Florence, Italy.

When Houston native Lorri White began to survey colleges, only the ones with outstanding reputations in international studies made her short list, which included Southwestern. It was an overnight visit to the campus that catapulted Southwestern into the number one spot. After graduating from Spring High School, White enrolled as a first-year, bringing 12 hours of advanced placement with her.

“I had so much fun on campus,” White recalls. “Southwestern was such a great place!”

White was having fun, but she was also working hard, pursuing a double major in international studies (with a concentration in economics) and French. She spent a semester studying in France, and as a senior she shared the campus with her younger brother, Troy, who also thought Southwestern was number one. White graduated in 1992; her brother graduated in 1995.

Shortly after graduation, White continued her studies at New York University, for a master of arts in French civilization studies, and then on to Rice University, for an MBA. White was determined to develop both sides of her brain long before hemispheric dominance (right brain/left brain learning theory) was a household concept.

Her dad, an accountant, and her mother, a math teacher, insisted that she take accounting and calculus along with her liberal arts classes at Southwestern. In her current position as Managing Director and Co-Head of Corporate Private Placements for AIG Investments, she relies on both left brain and right brain functions. “I make decisions based on facts, figures; and then I look into people’s eyes,” she says. “It is the balance of the qualitative and quantitative that’s been a compass for me throughout my career,” she adds.

White is mindful of maintaining a balance in all areas of her life, always making time to experience local culture when she travels for work.

White believes her undergraduate studies had a major impact on her. “Southwestern University played a big role in shaping my life,” she confirms.

That’s one reason she began to contribute to her alma mater not long after she graduated. “The experiences I had in the classroom were wonderful—they are my bond to the university,” she says. “It was intellectually so exciting to be enrolled in seemingly unrelated courses, and yet, the same subjects would be discussed in each class. I want somebody else to have that same experience.”

White says that she’s been amazed by the changes that are taking place on the Southwestern campus, “To see where Southwestern University has come in 16 years is almost unimaginable; the new buildings are fabulous!”

The next time she visits campus, White may be the one who is showing off the campus—this time to her soon-to-be husband, Karl Ittmann. White and Ittmann will marry in October in Houston. And no matter what the future has in store for them, it’s a safe bet that White will maintain her close ties to Southwestern. Looking back on her time at Southwestern and thinking ahead to the future, White reflects, “It’s such a great place to be.”

Beverly Stiegler Parker ’59

Giving & Getting Advice

Best advice she ever got was from her dad:
Always do the right thing.

Did she follow it?
I’ve tried to.

Worst advice she ever got was from a friend:
Drink coffee and smoke cigarettes.

Did she follow it?

The best advice she gave was to her three children, Valerie, Christian Ann and Allen:
Do the right thing, even when it hurts.

What brings you the greatest joy?
Sitting and reading a book on a rainy day; grandkids; the Texas Hill Country.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
Although I enjoy being with people, I love being at home.

Favorite place in Texas:
On the terrace of our house on Lake Travis at sunset.

When Beverly Stiegler Parker graduated from Edison High School in San Antonio, she wasn’t certain that college was in her future. “In my dad’s mind,” she says, “women graduated from high school, got some kind of skill, worked (maybe) and then got married.”

As her dad expected, Parker developed secretarial skills and got a job at a San Antonio printing company. Then the unexpected happened: Parker began to take classes at San Antonio College and then at Trinity University. After visiting a friend at Southwestern, Parker said she knew that the Georgetown campus was a perfect match for her. “People were so friendly, and I liked the idea of having relationships with the faculty,” she says.

Parker received her degree in social work in 1959—the first person in her family to graduate from college. And, as if her dad had ordained it, during her sophomore year at Southwestern she even met the man who would become her husband.

Carl Parker was a student at the University of Texas School of Law when members of the UT Law Bachelors’ Club came looking for Southwestern coeds to invite to a party. Beverly’s escort was Carl’s roommate, but after their first dance, his roommate disappeared from view. The rest, as they say, is history.

After working in Corpus Christi—Carl as a naval attorney and Beverly as a social worker—the two were married and began their life together in Port Arthur, Carl’s hometown. Their children Valerie, Christian Ann and Allen grew up in a home with parents who championed the causes they believed in; none was more important than education.

Parker’s commitment to higher education continued long after she graduated from Southwestern University. She served on the faculty of Lamar University (formerly Port Arthur College) for almost four decades. After receiving her doctorate from the University of Houston, she became chair of the Liberal Arts Department. Parker was also a partner in her husband’s career, especially during the more than 32 years that he served in the Texas Senate. She retired from Lamar University in 2006.

Parker may be retired from her profession, but she hasn’t retired from taking on new challenges and learning from her experiences. “I’m taking piano lessons,” she exclaimed with joy. “Before I began, I knew only where middle C was on the piano. It’s wonderful to learn things you knew nothing about.”

Several years ago, Parker was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Throughout her successful treatment program, she said her friends’ support was overwhelming. “My friends were a lesson in giving [to me],” she says. Some of those friends were ones she had made at Southwestern University 50 years ago.

Parker is still very much connected to her alma mater, and will be the first to tell you that “Where you get your undergraduate degree is where your heart is.” At the invitation of Justin Gould, Southwestern’s Associate Director of Leadership Gifts, she’s made several recent trips to Georgetown to discover the wonderful and exciting things that are happening on campus. “There is such joy from giving,” she says, “especially when you can see the good things that come from it,” she says.

The things that bring her the most joy include God, Carl, her kids and grandkids, her wonderful friends, education and politics. And when she’s counting her blessings, Parker includes her time at Southwestern among them.