Benefiel-Mathews Endowed Scholarship

Benefiel-Mathews Endowed Scholarship

Former CLC president Dr. Mark Mathews first expressed his desire to create an endowed scholarship at California Lutheran University in honor of both his parents and the parents of his wife in a February 1986 letter following his retirement from the college. The letter preceded the couple’s relocation from Westlake Village to their family lodge in Arnold, California. Later they moved to the Samarkand Retirement Community in Santa Barbara.

Mark Mathews, D.B.A., began his career at CLC in 1970 as chair of the department of business administration and economics. When the college began searching for a new president a few months later, he agreed to serve as acting president until the search was completed. Due to his strong administrative capabilities, Mark was asked to accept the position of president on a permanent basis. With considerable coaxing, he accepted and led the institution from 1972 until 1980, a very difficult period in its development. In 1980 he asked to be allowed to return to his first love—full-time teaching in the department of business administration, retiring from that position in 1991.

As professor, mentor and friend, Dr. Mathews instilled in his students a dedication to humanitarian service along with the belief that responsible living is an essential part of a successful business person’s life. Mark’s wife Jean was an integral part of everything he did. Always the gracious hostess, she was an eager participant in the women’s service programs at CLC, and a lovely “first lady” in every way.

Both Mark and Jean were clear in their intent for their scholarship. They wanted to encourage international understanding and peace. The first document establishing the Benefiel-Mathews Endowed Scholarship was signed in April 1991 and was to provide opportunities for upperclassmen to serve in Third World countries under the auspices of either Lutheran organizations or Habitat for Humanity. In 2015, Mark and Jean revised the criteria, designating the award for juniors or seniors who make a two-year commitment to the Peace Corps anywhere in the world. The change in criteria was inspired by two of the Mathews’ granddaughters who had served in the Peace Corps in Armenia and Nicaragua. For any year in which there is no qualified candidate, the scholarship may be awarded to a student planning to serve in a Lutheran mission. This scholarship will ultimately be funded through the Mathews’ charitable remainder uni-trust, a plan put into place when Mark was still CLC’s president. It is yet another example of his good business sense and strategic planning.

CLU owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mark and Jean Mathews—for their leadership, their foresight and their generosity to the University.