Helene “Lee” and her husband, Philip Hixon, were early donors to and advocates for the Palm Desert Campus of Cal State San Bernardino.
“I have always had a passion for education,” says the namesake of the Helene A. Hixon Information Resource Center on campus. “I love learning and I love teaching. There’s that moment when you catch on to something and you know how wonderful that is — and it’s more wonderful to watch someone else catch on to it when you’re teaching.”
Helene is a former teacher, and Phil Hixon is the retired founder of The Rolor Corp., a designer and producer of specialized photographic equipment. He was also chairman and CEO of Cambridge Information Group and its subsidiaries, which publish a variety of scientific, medical, and technical journals, as well as aviation and military standards and specifications.
“We believe strongly in supporting a university here because this university serves mostly first-generation students,” Helene says.
She also emphasizes the importance of keeping homegrown talent in the community. “Many of the young people, if they could afford to go to an out-of-town school, which is extremely expensive, will most likely stay there. It happens all the time. If we have the schools here, we can build a society in the Valley that’s self-sustaining.”
“The Valley has been building quality education for years,” she adds. “When this university opened, the opportunity to have a four-year college in the Valley was so wonderful because people could afford to go here. It trained students in useful and interesting subjects, and the students could live at home and have jobs and still attend college — which is actually the way I went to college, so I’m very sympathetic to it.”
Helene says that college completion is far more important than the college you complete. “You don’t get a quality education because of the name of the college you’re going to. You get it because of what you put into it. You get back what you give.”
VIDEO: Philip and Helene "Lee" Hixon, Cal State San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus