Giving With a Purpose: Why Alumnus Dick Lieser Gives to Westminster

Richard “Dick” Lieser, ’58 ΦΔΘ, could tell you about how Westminster helped him find professional success, but the essence of his education is what he really wants to talk about. The heart and soul of a liberal arts education brought Lieser through the most devastating crisis of his life.

A longtime business professional in the corporate systems and programming industry, Lieser proudly went on to own a computer rental business with his son, Rich Lieser, Jr. Rich died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1999 at the age of 34 following surgery.

“I think that having studied the great thinkers in such courses as ethics, philosophy, and literature as part of a liberal arts curriculum possibly contributed to my surviving my personal ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ ― the devastating loss of our beloved son,” Lieser says earnestly, effortlessly quoting Shakespeare from his home in Tulsa, OK.

The former Mathematics major and Blue Jays varsity tennis player is able to speak somewhat easily today of Rich. With more than 20 years of perspective behind them, Lieser and his wife, Patricia, decided to honor their son in a tangible way. This winter, the couple established the Richard Keating Lieser Jr. Memorial Scholarship for Westminster students.

“We have not specifically honored him in any major way [until now],” Lieser says. “This feels right for us to do so in this fashion and at this time.”

Lieser points out that he loves the expression “pay it forward,” which he feels strongly about when it comes to helping young people today who are less fortunate than he was as a Westminster student.

“I was born to parents who could afford to pay tuition, room, and board for me and my brothers,” Lieser explains. “Trish and I feel that a Westminster education should be available to students who are not so lucky as I was in the parental draw, and we also believe that there always needs to be a small liberal arts college like Westminster, especially for students like me who had only a vague idea of what I might wish to do in life.”

After graduating from Westminster, Lieser went on to earn an MBA at the University of California-Berkeley and quickly discovered just how different his small alma mater was in comparison to enormous public institutions.

“One of the nicest things to happen to me at Westminster was to be invited to be a fourth for tennis doubles with then-President Larry Davidson, mathematics professor and tennis coach Dr. Brooke Sloss, and English professor Dr. John Randolph,” Lieser reminisces. “I assure you that could never happen at that great but huge university … another example of the Westminster undergraduate advantage.”

With that “Westminster undergraduate advantage” in mind, Lieser earnestly invites other alumni from the College to do the same.

He adds, “If you agree with me that Westminster has been an important institution in our lives, please consider joining me and Trish in supporting our school, in whatever way you are able.”

For more information on giving to Westminster College, please contact J.R. Andrews, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, at J.R.Anderws@WCMO.edu or 573-592-5327. You also may visit the Giving page on our website.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.