Chico State newsletter celebrating campus diversity fall 2012

Richard Lipari: Founder of Student Veteran Organization

By: Jillian Luchsinger

When Richard Lipari attended Chico State in 1967, anti-Vietnam demonstrations and protests created a hostile environment for veterans returning to school after the war.

richard in front of school

Richard Lipari, founder of the Student Veteran Organization

“The transition from the military to civilian life was terrible,” Lipari said. “There were demonstrations on campus, and people did not appreciate the individuals in the service.”

In his first semester as a Wildcat, Lipari began the process of pledging a fraternity on campus. After noticing a difference between the attitudes of those who were in the service and those who were not, he decided to withdraw from the process.

Instead, Lipari was prompted to create an organization of his own. In 1967, he founded and became president of the Student Veteran Organization, a group that was supportive of individuals going through the same transition from the service to education.

The organization created camaraderie and support for soldiers at a time when other outlets didn’t exist on campus, he said.

More than 40 students showed up to the first meeting, and from there, the organization appointed officers, participated in events, held study halls, and planned meetings.

“Today they have rooms for meetings,” Lipari said. “We used to meet at a bar or pizzeria.”

richard speaking

Lipari spoke at the Veterans Day ceremony on November 10

The members quickly bonded and were very dedicated and committed to supporting each other personally and academically, he said.

During the time that Lipari attended Chico State and was involved with the student veterans, the organization received the highest GPA rating out of all of the organizations on campus.

“The attitude of veterans was much more serious than most of our peers,” he said. “In the service we went through very serious training, so we were very serious when we got to college about education and studying for good grades.”

Lipari explained that it was very rewarding when other members succeeded academically.

“We weren’t competing – we were inspiring each other to get good grades,” Lipari said.

Reflecting on his experience at Chico State, Lipari is pleased that soldiers discharged from the service now have transition services and educational benefits from the Veterans Affairs that are supported by college campuses.

“It wasn’t handled like it is today,” he said. “Now, veterans can plan college plans with advisors.”

Chico State recently made Victory Media’s list of Military Friendly Schools for the third year in a row. The list honors the top 15 percent of colleges in the country that do the most to support America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses in advancing their education.

Since Lipari founded the Student Veteran Organization 45 years ago, the group has continued to provide support for men and women in the service.

“As a young soldier, getting out of the military and making the transition to education is easier with the Student Veteran Organization,” he said.

Lipari graduated from Chico State in 1969 with a B.S. in accounting and earned an MBA from San Francisco State in 1972. He became a licensed Certified Public Accountant in 1972 and worked until he retired in 2009. He is still involved with the veteran community and supportive of the Student Veteran Organization at Chico State.