By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director
San Jose State is set to honor the life and extraordinary commitment of Phyllis Simpkins,’46 Home Economics and Marketing, on Friday, Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. in Morris Dailey Auditorium. A reception will follow in the rose garden and bell plaza area outside Tower Hall. Both events are open to the public.
Mrs. Simpkins, who passed away July 7 at 87, and her late husband Alan Simpkins, ‘48 Physics, were lifelong supporters and donors to SJSU. Among San Jose State’s most generous benefactors, the couple committed nearly $20 million to many athletic and academic programs.
The Simpkins’ led the effort to restore the Spartan Marching Band in 1977 after several years of absence. Last year, Phyllis provided seed money for a campaign to provide the band with new uniforms. On Sept. 8, when SJSU football takes on UC Davis, the band will wear those new uniforms in a half-time show dedicated to the couple. Sewn inside each uniform is a label bearing the name of a donor, including Phyllis and Alan Simpkins.
Among SJSU Most Generous Donors
“The legacy created by Phyllis Simpkins’ leadership and generosity will benefit San Jose State University students for generations to come. Not only did she give generously, she inspired others to support San Jose State,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi. “It is important that we pay tribute to the many ways in which Phyllis and Alan supported our students and university as a whole.”
Gifts from the Simpkins support the following:
- Phyllis Forward Simpkins International Center (the SJSU International House)
- Alan B. Simpkins Intercollegiate Athletics Administration Building
- Simpkins Stadium Center
- Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
- Department of Nutrition and Food Science
- Department of Kinesiology
- School of Music and Dance
Giving and Getting Involved
But the Simpkins did much more than give to SJSU; they got involved. The International House was a personal passion for Phyllis who, in addition to being a regular visitor and occasional cook, oversaw its purchase, renovation and upkeep. Phyllis served as president of the SJSU Alumni Association in 1977. She and with her husband were among the founders of the association’s Santa Cruz Chapter.
San Jose State and the California State University have honored Phyllis and Alan Simpkins many times over the years. In 1979, Phyllis Simpkins received the Tower Award, SJSU’s highest honor for philanthropy and service. Phyllis and Alan Simpkins were named CSU Philanthropists of the Year in 1989. Both Phyllis and Alan Simpkins also received honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters at the SJSU commencement in 1996.
Parking for the event is available in the South (Seventh Street) Garage, located at South Seventh and East San Salvador streets.