College faculty share their thoughts about Barrie Cropper
The Cropper legacy, the Center for Creative Writing, shapes students’ lives because of its central focus on words and the work of imagination. Wonderful writers come to campus to read from their poetry and fiction, offering their own literary illuminations. The momentum generated by the Writers Series led to the hiring of two new faculty members, Jericho Brown and Halina Duraj, and the development of a creative writing emphasis within the English major. The Cropper gift, then, its legacy, offers students the opportunity to know themselves as writers and to hone their craft with fine faculty, opportunities Lindsay cherished during her time at USD.
This generosity reveals so much about the Croppers, their desire, in the face of such loss, to reach out to others who would benefit from Lindsay’s love of language. In establishing the Cropper Writers Series and the Cropper Center for Creative Writing, Mr. and Mrs. Cropper understand what Linda Hogan so aptly articulates:
Words, I see now, are the defining shape of a human spirit. Without them, we fall. Without them, there is no accounting for the human place in the world. Language is an intimacy not only with others, but even with the self. It creates a person. Without it, in the dawn, in the dark of night, there is no way to know who or what we are.
Sr. Mary Hotz, PhD
Barrie and Dorothy went to every reading [in the Cropper Writers Series] and talked animatedly about the works being read, but it wasn’t about the individual poems or stories, it was, for the Croppers, about a whole world opening up for them that made them better understand Lindsay. It was hard for Barrie to describe, but it was like travel to a very interesting place, with different points of view, clarity of emotions, the pleasures of an expression that came from a deep place.
I never knew Lindsay Cropper, but I imagine she must have been quite an amazing woman with parents like Barrie and Dorothy. Barrie Cropper was one of the most enthusiastic and supportive men I've ever met in my life. His real interest was to see me excel and to support me in any way he could in making the Cropper Center at first-rate creative writing Mecca. What I loved most about him was that he didn't think unless he could think big and that he expected the same from me. Today, the Cropper Center brings the best living writers to San Diego and works to make our student the best future writers of this nation.
“What the Croppers have done by generously supporting the study and practice of literature is to honor Lindsay's memory now and in the future. The expanded creative writing program in the English Department is also an outcome and beneficiary of the Croppers' goodwill toward the department that nurtured their daughter's literary gifts.
I want to emphasize how very generous both Mr. and Mrs. Cropper have been to USD and to the English Department's Creative Writing program in particular—not only in sharing their resources but also in sharing their lives with us.
I saw Barrie on campus last year and even though he had received bad medical news, he dismissed talking about it and spoke instead about his idea for a combined English/Business minor, which we had discussed before. He would say that the people in business, whom he knew, respected and understood, just did not “get” what English had to offer and would be the better for if they did. (And I would say the same, only in reverse, about my English colleagues and majors.) There was no doubt in his mind that each discipline had something to tell the other one and I could not help thinking how his relation to Lindsay was behind this. Barrie wanted very much to humanize business people, and thereby humanize business, and to bring more of the real world to the literary arts. He and Dorothy would have huge smiles on their faces after every reading as they got in line to purchase the books in the lobby.
As a member of the department, I have been particularly grateful for Mr. and Mrs. Cropper's respect for the faculty's own vision for the Creative Writing Program. Mr. Cropper has always been interested and ready to talk about how the faculty envisioned the Writers Series. He wanted us to invite the writers who we thought would be most beneficial to our students. At every turn, both Barrie and Dorothy Cropper have asked what we thought would be best for USD's students, and they have supported what the faculty wanted to do.
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