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Cover of the spring 2003 SFSU magazine. Geography Professor Max Kirkeberg and students tour of San Francisco's Western Addition.


SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 3, Number 2.
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Giving to San Francisco State University

Gary and Cynthia Bengier, husband and wife, stand together smiling on the main plaza of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Photo by Lui Gino de GrandisCampus Beat


Sharing Their Good Fortune
Recent retirees Gary and Cynthia Bengier are not your typical SFSU students.

After earning advanced degrees, the husband and wife enjoyed lucrative careers and retired in their forties. Gary, 48, helped take eBay public as the online auctioneer's chief financial officer. Cynthia, 46, a former Wells Fargo marketing vice president, worked closely with newly emerging smart card technology.

Today, the Bengiers are taking classes at SFSU purely for pleasure. They've found a way to relieve some of the stress for fellow students struggling to earn degrees and pay the bills at the same time. This fall, 25 deserving undergraduates will receive $1,000 scholarships, thanks to the Bengiers' generosity.

"The recession has hit the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area particularly hard," says Gary, who holds an MBA from Harvard and is taking math and science courses at SFSU. "We want to motivate and encourage bright and hard-working students… to finish their degrees."

The Bengiers hope their donation prompts others to establish scholarships for SFSU students with financial concerns.

"State offers affordable tuition but people forget how difficult it can be to pay bills and rent in the city," says Cynthia, who earned her bachelor's in marketing at SFSU in 1978, an MBA at New York University, and is now pursuing her master's degree in history.

The Bengiers are enjoying life at a slower pace. In the height of their careers, it wasn't unusual for Gary to pull a 100-hour work week. Cynthia, her husband jokes, "was operating like a commuter shuttle" as she flew to frequent meetings in Europe and Asia.

Now the couple globetrots with their daughter, a student at Colgate University, and their six-year old son, who just made Premier Executive with United Airlines.

The Bengiers are helping others expand their world view. At Kent State, where Gary earned a bachelor's in computer science, they've established a study-abroad fellowship.

For information on establishing University scholarships, please contact the Office of University Development at 415/338-1042.

-- Adrianne Bee


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Last modified October 16, 2003, by the Office of Publications