Len and Jan Carpenter: Leaving a Legacy


Len Carpenter grew up on a cattle ranch in the San Luis Valley and, although his father encouraged him to be a veterinarian, soon after coming to Colorado State University, he found a passion closer to his own heart. "I had always been more interested in deer and other wildlife than cattle, so I decided a wildlife biology degree suited me better," Len says.

Len received his Bachelor of Science degree and his Ph.D. from CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources. He enjoyed a very rewarding career as a wildlife researcher studying mule deer ecology, and methods for improving natural rangelands for wild ungulates. In later years Len worked in worked in wildlife administration and management. Now retired, Len is still involved in writing, and sharing his knowledge with colleagues nationwide.

Len's wife, Jan, received her teacher certification from CSU's College of Liberal Arts. She taught English, Spanish, and speech at the junior high level for most of her career. Len says, "Jan was a stickler for grammar, and she was adamant that her students memorized all of the helping verbs. Students still, to this day, tell her what a difference that made in their ability to write well." Jan adds, "I have to say, it must have stuck with them, because even on Facebook they punctuate and paragraph correctly and can still recite their helping verbs."

Julia Remsik Larsen, a former student of Jan's, now teaches composition and grammar at the University of New Mexico. Julia has many fond memories of Jan as her teacher, and she says she learned much more from her than just grammar and writing.

"Mrs. Carpenter taught me what it means to be trusted, and the responsibility and reward that comes with that. She also taught me the importance of having a quiet safe haven to get away from the world when it became overwhelming, and having someone to talk to when I needed to process my thoughts. I spent so many lunch periods in her classroom, just sitting with her and enjoying the quiet. She has been one of my most influential role models. She taught me what it means to be a teacher, a good friend, and a generous person," Julia says.

Len and Jan both came from generous, but frugal, families and they patterned their own lives accordingly. "To be a giver, you need something to give, and you do that by taking care of yourself and your family first. Then it's more natural to give to others," Len says. Once their daughter's college education was completed, they met with a financial adviser, and began laying the groundwork for their future giving plans.

Len and Jan's fondest college memories were of CSU men's basketball games and a packed Moby arena, brimming with student enthusiasm. That made their choice to financially support athletics an easy one. When finalizing their estate plans, they decided to include CSU in their will to benefit the men's basketball program. After securing their planned gift, they decided that giving felt so good; why not enjoy the effects of their giving while they were still living? The Carpenters then decided to establish a Ram Legacy Scholarship, also in support of the men's basketball program.

Maurice Wiltz was the recipient of the Carpenters' Ram Legacy Scholarship. "It's such a blessing to have this scholarship and to have Len and Jan in my life," Maurice says. "They're more to me than just donors who gave me a scholarship. They support me, and they're like another set of parents to me. They are the reason I feel so at home at CSU."

"I cannot think of a better investment than education," Len says. "We especially like the fact that CSU is a land-grant institution where the core philosophy is to teach conservation and proper use of our natural resources. When you educate people, you solve so many of our world's issues."