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Dr. Terry Piper

Photo of Dr. Terry Piper

May 13 , 2010

To the Campus Community:
It is with profound personal sorrow and a heavy heart that I share the news that Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Piper passed away at approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 13, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. As you may recall, Dr. Piper requested a temporary leave from his responsibilities last January so that he could devote his full attention to receiving medical treatment for a melanoma, which ultimately proved to be highly aggressive. At the moment of his passing, Terry was surrounded by his beloved wife, Carolyn, his two adult children, Matt and Dana, and other members of his family. Some of Terry's campus colleagues and friends had the opportunity to spend time with Terry during his final days, including myself and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs William Watkins. Vice President Piper was engaged, and expressed great pride for the University and heartfelt appreciation for the people who had the privilege to work with him.

This is a grievous loss for many of us personally and, of course, the entire campus community. No one exhibited greater devotion to the success and well-being of students. Dr. Piper arrived on campus in 2001 and had an immediate positive impact. During his tenure, he re-shaped the Division of Student Affairs to align it with the most current thinking and practices of the student affairs and services disciplines. This progressive approach placed the focus of the division's mission and priorities on students and student learning, and aligned its functions with students' work in the classroom, the University's instructional mission, and the totality of the academic and college experience. The outcomes of Vice President Piper's work in this regard were recently recognized in the WASC re-accreditation Capacity and Preparatory Review, which praised our Student Affairs Division for its leadership in recognizing that meaningful learning occurs outside the classroom through student affairs programming, and for developing a learning outcome model that measures these experiences and advances continued student success.

Dr. Piper's achievements and legacy here are the culmination of a distinguished professional career that began at Ohio State University as a residence hall director and area coordinator. He then moved to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he served as the Director of Residential Life, and advanced to the position of Associate Vice President for Student Services before accepting his appointment at Cal State Northridge. He earned his bachelor's degree in Secondary Education from Pennsylvania State University, a master's in College Student Development and Higher Education from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership from Ohio State University. Keeping true to his commitment to education and scholarship, he held a faculty appointment in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, and regularly taught classes during the academic year. Dr. Piper was widely respected in his field, and his innovations and ideas-such as the residence hall community standards model-have been widely adopted across the nation. He published and presented his work extensively, and was a national leader in his field's professional associations.

I have learned during my experiences in higher education leadership that a vice president may have responsibility for one area, but those vice presidents who truly excel are those who understand and assume the perspective of the whole University. Dr. Piper became this kind of vice president, and his leadership, contributions, knowledge, and friendship were respected and valued across campus and, particularly, among his colleagues on the President's Cabinet. All of us on the Cabinet appreciated that he pushed us to think deeper on issues and to examine matters analytically from all sides. His intelligence and capacity to invoke multiple perspectives while thinking through issues rendered him not just an exceptional divisional leader, but also a true and outstanding University leader.

One concrete way Dr. Piper expressed his commitment to the students at Cal State Northridge is through generous giving to the University, and most recently the establishment of the Terry D. Piper Endowment. This is yet one more way that his efforts will live on and the effects of his dedication to Cal State Northridge and our students will be continued.

I have been in close communication with Terry's wife, Carolyn, and I'm pleased to say that, in accordance with the family's wishes, the University will host a formal memorial to honor Vice President Piper's life and accomplishments. I will share the details with the campus community as soon as they become available.

I know many of you are experiencing profound grief and a deep sense of loss over the sudden passing of our valued friend and colleague. I ask you to join me in expressing deepest condolences to Terry's family during this difficult and emotional time. Carolyn and the family have been very appreciative of the University's attention and support. I look forward to joining with many of you shortly to pay tribute to a cherished husband, father, and educator.

Jolene Koester

If you would like to make a donation in Vice President Terry Piper's memory:

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Terry D. Piper Endowment at California State University, Northridge. Individuals may do so with a check or money order made payable to the "CSUN Foundation." Please note the "Terry D. Piper Endowment" in the memo line. Donations should be sent to California State University, Northridge — Student Affairs, Attn: Jerry De Felice, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8239. Or click here to make a donation online with a credit card.

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