Professor Emeritus gives scholarships to all 2017-18 school psychology graduate students in good academic standing
Cal State East Bay Professor Emeritus Ted Alper knows that university students of today face challenges not experienced by their predecessors. Student debt is at an all-time high, rising Bay Area property values drive up rent and everything from a gallon of milk to textbooks costs more than it did when he was in school.
Rising in the east
But now, thanks to a recent gift Alper has made, each graduate student in good academic standing who started the university’s school psychology program in 2017 will receive a $1,000 scholarship. He is hopeful the funding will create a ripple effect and help ensure all Bay Area K-12 students have access to qualified school psychologists.
“I’m supporting a program that directly meets the mental health needs of children and deserves attention,” Alper said. “You need an advocate for children in the schools, and a school psychologist is that person.”
According to Professor Greg Jennings, upwards of 80 percent of graduates from the program remain in the Bay Area working as counselors, field supervisors and program specialists, filling a vital and growing need in the community.
“Under the supervision of school psychologists in the field and a university supervisor on campus, they learn how to provide counseling, assessment, intervention and teacher consultation services in an amazing range of diverse school communities,” Jennings said.
In 2017, US News and World Report ranked school psychology as the No. 1 social service-related job in America and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted an increase of 20 percent — or 30,5000 new jobs nationally — by 2024.
TIME TO GIVE
Alper is quick to point out that he was not born into a wealthy family. Rather, he’s worked hard — many times balancing two or three jobs to supplement his professor’s salary — and due to his son’s death, sees himself as being in a unique position to give.
Alper’s son Joshua died in a bike accident in November 2013, which left the professor and his late wife reevaluating their end-of-life financial planning. Inspired by former California Governor Leland Stanford (who lost his only child to typhoid fever), Alper decided he wanted to give 50 percent of his inheritance to California students and as a former professor at Cal State East Bay, he earmarked funds for the university and department where he spent almost his entire career.
“You ask why I’m giving,” Alper says. “It’s the students, they’re the why.”
He hopes his gift will inspire others to consider donating a portion of their estate, or even just 10 percent a month, to first-generation students and programs that support low socioeconomic communities.
“Not everybody can give 50 percent like I can, but I know a lot of people who could give a small percent to those who are less fortunate and I would hope that more will consider it,” Alper says.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Alper was a first-generation student at Michigan State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. After working for a couple years with special needs public school children, he pursued a master’s in school psychology from CSULA and eventually a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Oregon.
After completing a post-doc program at Stanford in Palo Alto, Alper accepted a position at Cal State East Bay, where he taught for 34 years and spent an additional four years in the Faculty Early Retirement Program.
During his tenure at the university, he recalls being continually impressed by the program’s commitment to providing hands-on job training to its students. According to Jennings, the school psychologists-in-training are currently providing counseling and assessment services in more than 12 Bay Area school districts and all first year graduate students provide no-cost counseling to families and individuals as part of their clinical training at the university’s Community Counseling Clinic.
“[Cal State East Bay] has always been focused on being a training school for psychologists and especially for inner city schools, which is needed now more than ever,” Alper said. “It’s possibly the most hands-on program in California, with students getting fieldwork from the first quarter of the program. And when you’re talking about training future counselors, we want them to have that experience so they can hit the ground running.”