Dick and Vicki SharpBy Pamela Dean

Vicki and Dick Sharp have dedicated their lives to education. Both are retired professors who spent the majority of their careers teaching at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

They are also long-time friends of CSUCI and are graciously leaving a portion of their estate to the University through a planned legacy gift. The gift will be used to establish the Vicki and Richard Sharp Scholarship Endowment for Education Fund which will one day provide scholarships for students in the School of Education.

“We are giving our money to CSUCI because of the wonderful students and faculty,” Vicki explained. “We want to do something that is good for humanity and we want to help students get ahead.” 

Their affection for CSUCI began when, shortly after the University opened, Vicki started teaching computer classes at night for the School of Education. The couple fell in love with the beauty of the campus, its hard-working, first-generation students and the close-knit and kind faculty and staff.

Their affection for each other began in 1970 at the then San Fernando Valley State College, CSUN’s former name. Vicki had just relocated from Missouri after completing her Ph.D. at St. Louis University. Teaching positions were scarce in the Midwest but plentiful in California and she had been hired as an assistant professor to teach math in the college’s Elementary Education department. 

Dick, a math professor in the department, heard about Vicki’s arrival and had to check out the newcomer for himself. He invited her to dinner that very evening and eight weeks later they were married. The pair recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.

Together the Sharps spent more than three decades teaching at CSUN, once even having to share office space, which drove Vicki crazy. “At home he is very neat,” she recalled. “At work, not so much.”

“We want to do something that is good for humanity and we want to help students get ahead.”
–Vicki Sharp 

Vicki taught computers to aspiring teachers and authored many books on math games for teachers, computer education for teachers, books on healthcare websites and websites for teachers, as well as books on using software programs such as Microsoft Office and Photoshop Elements.

A math lover, Dick also wrote many books on math games and using the internet. He also penned articles for medical health sites and educational math websites. The couple authored educational books together as well. 

In addition to writing and teaching, the Sharps have led a colorful life including traveling the globe and brushes with iconic people.

While studying for his doctorate degree at Boston University in the 1950’s, Dick met and befriended Martin Luther King, Jr. when the renowned civil rights activist was also there working on his Ph.D. Dick later joined MLK in his March on Washington D.C. in 1963.

Raised in Providence, RI, Dick hitchhiked across the country to California at 16 and fell in love with the state. He knew one day he wanted to live there permanently. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Early on in his career he spent time as a middle school math teacher and then a college professor at NYU where he was asked to develop the math curriculum for the newly established federal Head Start program. 

He eventually found his way back to California and was hired as a math professor at Valley State.

Vicki was raised in Missouri and earned her bachelor’s degree from Washington University. Dick retired from CSUN in 2005, Vicki in 2009. Both have emeritus status.

The couple hope their gift helps CSUCI’s largely underserved population get a leg up in life.

“From my time spent teaching at Channel Islands, I found that the students are so appreciative,” Vicki said. “A lot of them are first generation and need help. We want to help them find their way in the world.”

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© Spring 2021 / Volume 26 / Number 1 / Biannual

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