Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Oh, the Places They'll Go
Sickels' Endowment Supports Children's Literature at SDSU.
Christopher “Kit” Sickels’ relationship with San Diego State began when he was a child. From kindergarten through sixth grade, he attended the Campus Laboratory School, an elementary school operated by the college to train teachers in its credential program. Known for its creativity and rigorous curriculum, the school sparked Sickels’ early interest in books.
Sickels later returned to campus to earn an education degree from SDSU, as did his mother and his wife, Karen. In fact, husband and wife began their careers as teachers in the San Diego City Schools.
Over the years, Sickels’ love of books deepened, along with his appreciation for SDSU. Since 2002, he has served on the board of directors of The Campanile Foundation, SDSU’s philanthropic auxiliary. In addition, he and Karen remain dedicated to their alma mater’s success, demonstrating their commitment with a $1 million gift to the SDSU library.
The Christopher D. and Karen Sickels Endowment for Special Collection in Children’s Literature will support SDSU’s premier children’s literature program, which comprises the nation’s largest faculty in the field. The university hopes to offer the first humanities doctorate in the California State University system in this specialty, and due to the Sickels’ generosity, its scholars will have the research materials necessary to excel in their discipline. In addition, the gift creates the largest single endowment ever to SDSU’s library.
For the Sickels, the gift fulfilled two primary objectives: to serve all students and benefit both children and teachers. “We liked the idea of being able to support the library because it is a resource for the entire campus and larger community,” said Sickels. “Helping SDSU purchase rare and unique books for children also reflects our love of children and those who devote their lives to educating and inspiring them.”
A successful entrepreneur who built his fortune in real estate development, Sickels now invests in business ventures and activities he enjoys, such as the Milagro Farm Vineyards and Winery in Ramona, and antiquarian book collecting. Among his prized collection are many Dr. Seuss books.
“We were fortunate to have Theodor Geisel [Dr. Seuss] as a neighbor years ago. He helped me build my collection. Now I’m a few first editions short of a complete collection,” Sickels mused. “Theodor Geisel
once said, ‘Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.’ It makes me even more determined to fill in the gaps.”