December 13, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker
As the sun faded into a purple gray sky Dec. 9, a crowd of about 200 La Sierra University leaders, city dignitaries, students, staff and guests gathered on the university’s fountain plaza to celebrate a milestone event in the life of the campus.
They came to dedicate the site of La Sierra’s next landmark facility named in honor of two couples whose philanthropic generosity is foundational in bringing a long-held dream to fruition. (Click here for a slideshow of the dedication ceremony: http://www.lasierra.edu/uploads/pics/sbevent2010/)
The university is aiming to move its burgeoning business programs from their current, 42-year-old structure into the Zapara School of Business and Rubin Hall, more than 60,000-square-feet of light, airy, high-tech space that will face Riverwalk Parkway, large enough to accommodate 750 students and faculty offices. The blueprint includes a full service conference center for business and regional events.
During Thursday’s ceremony, La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey and School of Business Dean John Thomas delivered words of recognition and appreciation for the significant contributions of La Sierra alums Thomas and Violet Zapara, founders of a successful occupational first aid and safety services firm, and Riverside/Los Angeles developer Mark Rubin and his wife, Pam.
Wisbey cited the couples’ substantive contributions to various educational causes around the region and thanked them for their confidence in La Sierra University. “The Zaparas have given significant support to projects at La Sierra University in the past. This significant new commitment by Thomas and Violet demonstrates again their strong belief in the School of Business’s future,” Wisbey said. “Pam and Mark Rubin are showing similar belief in how La Sierra University’s plans will make a strong impact on communities in the Inland Empire.”
“Tom and Violet, Pam and Mark, please know how incredibly grateful we are that the beautiful new building that will serve generations of students will bear your names,” continued Wisbey. “This will be an extraordinary facility, not only providing a home for our dynamic and growing school, but also a conference center that will help to meet the growing demand for meeting space in western Riverside.”
“For decades, Tom and Vi have been envisioning an exciting future for Seventh-day Adventist education. They’ve dreamed of a future marked by a combination of spiritual vitality, openness and academic excellence,” Thomas said during his remarks. “Now we celebrate their dreams for the church they love, with a school of business where their entrepreneurial spirits and creativity will be honored and emulated.”
The Rubins’ contribution reflects their vision of Riverside as “a place where higher education flourishes,” Thomas continued. “Now we celebrate their dreams for the community to which they’ve given so much, with a business building where that community will be enriched by scholarship, teaching and service.”
Business students Ryan Foss and Amanda Oberg talked about the significance of the new school from their perspectives. Foss said the contributions and example of the Zaparas and the Rubins empower La Sierra’s students.
The philanthropists’ contributions display a confidence in the university’s students they typically don’t receive at such a young and inexperienced age, Oberg said. “I’d like to thank both the Zaparas and the Rubins for believing in us as students,” she said. “For the students coming up in our future, how cool is this to call this our home?”
Several governmental officials and representatives attended the site dedication ceremony including Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and City Councilman Steve Adams.
“In my tenure as mayor I’ve seen the transformation of this campus,” Loveridge said. “We’re celebrating people who care about this place. We’re here to thank the Zaparas and the Rubins for what their contributions represent.” He cited the transformative architecture and technology the new building will employ and said the facility will stand as a “marker of La Sierra University’s coming of age.”
The ceremony closed with the Rubins and the Zaparas cutting a ceremonial ribbon to unveil a new sign for Rubin Hall and the Zapara School of Business.
“We feel La Sierra University does a fantastic job in providing quality education,” Mark Rubin said. “Pam and I greatly support education in general and education in the Riverside area specifically. We feel the new School of Business will enhance the community at large and create more economic development for the area. The work that Dr. Wisbey and his predecessor, Dr. Geraty have done will only get better with this new school.”
The Rubins have developed homes, shopping centers and offices in the Riverside area, including a townhouse complex in downtown Riverside. Their firm, Regional Properties Inc., is currently constructing a six-story office building near the 91 Freeway in Riverside. In addition to the numerous board positions the Rubins hold with community and regional organizations, Mark Rubin also serves as chairman of La Sierra University’s Foundation Board.
The Zaparas started their company, Zee Medical Inc. in 1952 in their home garage. They grew the startup over three decades to ultimately serve more than 400,000 manufacturing plants, construction companies, offices and other businesses until its acquisition by another firm. They back their vision for the potential of Adventist education through philanthropic support.
The decision to contribute to the new business school project “was easy …when you see what’s going on here,” Thomas Zapara said. “You want to support things like this.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University