School’s new focus inspires support

As anyone who has ever visited Saint Mary’s campus can tell you, the sense of community here is magical. For Paul Larkins ’82 this intrinsic atmosphere propelled him to transfer from a large state university to Saint Mary’s in 1979. The decision changed his life.

Today Larkins is the president and CEO of SquareTwo Financial, one of the nation’s largest accounts receivable management firms. His career path, which looks more like a major freeway with notable milestones, has included 14 relocations, travel to 26 countries and responsibility for firms overseeing billions of dollars in financed assets. He traces it all back to Saint Mary’s College.

“It was the community at Saint Mary’s that made all the difference. Not only did I meet and marry my wife Jean there, but I also secured an education and ultimately a career opportunity during my three years there,” said Larkins, who found his first job, with IBM, through the Career Center at Saint Mary’s. “College career centers can make a huge difference in a young person’s life. To this day I am grateful.”

Larkins shows his gratitude through steadfast support for Saint Mary’s and is one of the College’s major donors. He urges other alumni to support the College “because, like me, they are the beneficiaries of an outstanding experience and more than likely a phenomenal education. Giving back to the school, even if it is a small contribution, can have a huge impact.”

Meanwhile, reluctant to talk about the impact of his philanthropy on facilities, faculty and course offerings at his alma mater, Larkins prefers to talk about the reasons he gives so generously.

“The current focus within the School of Economics and Business Administration is spot on for what the commercial markets demand,” he said, adding that he is impressed with Dean Zhan Li’s broader focus, beyond the Bay Area, as well as the emphasis on fostering responsible business practices and integrating Lasallian ideas into ethical operations in business environments.

“This focus will differentiate Saint Mary’s students and make them more valuable in the marketplace, both as business professionals and as human beings. I can’t wait to see this focus advance.”

Larkins recalls what Brother Mel said at graduation Mass in 1982. “He suggested to the graduates that, as they drive out of the campus for one last time, they look over their shoulder back at the Chapel and never forget that view. I never have. Saint Mary’s is a special place that attracts unique students and provides them with significant opportunities.”