An Interview with Frank Hilton and Alan Coogan: Why Supporting PSU with a Planned Gift is Important.
What does PSU mean to you? Why do you think PSU is so important for our community?
Frank: The Senior Adult Learning Center (SALC) is the thing that connected me to the university because I didn’t go here as an undergraduate or graduate student but I’m a Portland native. It’s important for the state because it provides higher education to the population center of the state. And look at the student demographics, you tend to get older students, many who are holding down jobs in addition to going to school and if it wasn’t here they wouldn’t be able to get advanced education and advance their chances to get a better job.
Alan: What PSU means to me is a chance to go back and pursue paths that I didn’t take when I was an undergraduate. I have a passion for archaeology and having been born in Caracas I have a passion for the Spanish language and Latin American culture and history. And foolishly, I chose the law. But life gives you second chances and so now I’ve been taking anthropology courses at PSU to pursue my love of archaeology and more importantly, I’m able to major in Spanish, I’m earning a bachelor’s in Spanish and so while I wish I had done that when I was 21, 62 is better than 72 or 82.
Why do you like to give back to your community?
Frank: Well for me it’s been a lifelong endeavor. I’ve given both money, time and expertise, up to a month a year out of the office giving back and helping organizations. I think part of it was being gay frankly, to prove myself. I came out as gay in ancient history, in the 70s. I think that was part of the driver, and also a slight bit of guilt about coming into this world with so much given to me. I had a wealthy father, and so you sort of feel you’ve got to give something back. As for supporting PSU, it’s the realization that the state is not funding our higher education anymore and it’s catastrophic, so people have to step up to the plate and consider helping.
Alan: I find that I'm more effective when I contribute small amounts to many organizations. I’ve learned that I am not an activist, I’m not an organizer, but I feel very strongly about certain causes. Most recently, thanks to a Portland State class on the sociology of food inequalities, I’ve made contributions to about half a dozen organizations that are dealing with climate issues, dealing with social justice issues, dealing with animal rights issues, and also I have been supporting organizations that are active politically.
Why did you choose to make a planned gift to PSU and why did you choose the way in which you made that planned gift to PSU?
Frank: Education is important to me, so our gift will support the Friends of History, Political Science, and World Languages and Literature. PSU is a stable entity and it is back to my core belief that education is one of the most important things there is in our society. I’m afraid our country is falling behind the advanced industrialized countries. Education is not being funded the way it should be and our next generation is going to suffer the consequences. We chose making PSU a beneficiary of our retirement accounts because it is easy to do (no estate planning documentation) and retirement accounts are what we attorneys in estate planning call "hot money", that is, subject to state and federal income tax payable by individuals who receive the accounts, where gifts to the PSU Foundation are not subject to the tax.
Alan: We chose to support the humanities because we need to understand who we are, where we came from, and why we do what we do if we’re going to make any use out of our STEM knowledge.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Frank: In this stage of life, it’s staying fit, hiking and everything else to stay fit. We travel, read, and study. They say that if you survive the first two years of retirement you’re likely going to survive longer. That’s why I take classes through SALC and I do all the homework.
Alan: What I do in my spare time is learn and I do it through photography and in particular, travel photography and photography of objects in museums. What I find is that I don’t really know where I’ve been until I get back and begin working on my pictures and researching what I’ve photographed and every day, pretty much, I will open entire vistas I didn’t know existed about all sorts of subjects: politics, music, art all through the photographs.
Who are some of your role models?
Frank: Alan is my role model.
Alan: I’d say Frank is a role model.
Frank and Alan have made PSU a beneficiary of their retirement accounts and are members of the Epler Society. Named for PSU founder Stephen E. Epler and his wife Ferne, the Epler Society honors donors who include the university in their estate plans.