Perpers help Lynn stay focused on the future

Perper Residence Hall Rendering
Mary Ann Perper

Always dedicated to improving the quality of life on the Lynn campus, Mary and the late Harold Perper have made a difference in the everyday lives of students for nearly 25 years.

The Perper name can be seen in student-focused areas all over campus—from a mailroom and study lounge to an outdoor plaza and intercollegiate tennis complex ... and lots of places in between:

  • Mary Ann and Harold Perper Intramural Field
  • Mary Ann and Harold Perper Grandstands at Bobby Campbell Stadium
  • Perper Tennis Complex
  • Mary Ann and Harold Perper Orchestra and Mezzanine Seating in the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center
  • Mary and Harold Perper Plaza
  • Perper Mailroom
  • Harold and Mary Perper Testing Centerin the Institute for Achievement and Learning
  • Perper Coffee House
  • Perper Communication Center
  • Scholarships and annual gifts

It was their custom to ask about priorities for Lynn at any particular time—and then proceed to provide for them. Their gifts all answered crucial needs outlined in the university’s strategic plan, Lynn 2020: focusing on our future—a guide for Lynn’s growth and development to fulfill its vision as a different kind of 21st century university—to be completed by 2020.

An initiative in the plan calls for the completion of the construction of Lynn’s campus, including sports fields/facilities and additional residence halls. With the Perpers’ help, an intercollegiate tennis facility was built and dedicated in 2010. The Perper Tennis Complex—the campus’ first outdoor, lighted facility—was the critical first step in the entire athletics master plan.

The Perper Tennis Complex reflects the high caliber of play of Lynn’s outstanding tennis teams. The women’s team has had at least one first-time All-American every year since 1987, with a total of 106 All-American honors. For the men’s team, 25 different Fighting Knights have earned a total of 70 separate All-American honors. Collectively, our men’s and women’s tennis teams have garnered seven national championships and 13 Sunshine State Conference titles.

Perper intramural field

Last year, their generous gift provided for the construction of the Mary Ann and Harold Perper Intramural Field, now a focal point as one enters campus through the west Potomac Road entrance. This pivotal project needed to be completed before Lynn could move on to another priority in its master plan—residence facilities to be built in the space the former intramural field occupied.

When Mary Perper learned of the critical need for additional student housing, she did what she and Harold always did—stepped up to help. She designated her most recent gift of $8 million to construct the Mary and Harold Perper Residence Hall, the first of several residence halls to be part of a residence center.

With a scheduled completion date of August 2017, the beautiful three-story building will house 170 students and reflect the Perpers’ own warmth and caring. It will be designed as apartments, with several bedrooms adjacent to a living room and kitchen. Additional features will include:

  • 1st floor: double occupancy rooms with four students to a suite
  • 2nd & 3rd floor: five single bedrooms in townhouse style
  • Amenities: BBQ, fire pit, laundries, kitchens, study areas ... to name a few
Perper Residence Hall Rendering
Preliminary architectural rendering by Gensler

“The Perpers have made a series of key investments in nearly every facet of our campus, resulting in significant improvements in the student experience,” says President Kevin M. Ross. “This incredibly generous gift toward the new residence center is a testament to their ongoing desire to put students first. We are deeply appreciative for Mary and her late husband, Harold. They have been big difference makers here at Lynn.”

It’s particularly fitting that their name appears on a building that serves as a home-away-from-home to students from all over the world, given their long, successful careers in the hotel business.

Residents of South Florida since the 1950s, the Perpers both worked as stockbrokers in Miami Beach and later owned and operated hotels in and around the Washington, D.C. area as well at the New Jersey and Pennsylvania turnpikes. “We had Holiday Inns at almost every exit,” says Mrs. Perper.

“During the time we were stockbrokers in Miami Beach, Harold’s father started opening Holiday Inns in the D.C. area where he had his hotel business. As the business was expanding so quickly, he called us to come north to help. So we went up there part time in the mid-1960s to help build, decorate and manage the hotels until we retired in the mid-’80s.

“I decorated all the hotel rooms while Harold planned, built and managed them,” says Mrs. Perper. “We were one of the first hotels to install blackout curtains, which were just coming in at the time. We focused on making our Holiday Inns places where single travelers or traveling families could be comfortable while they were away from home.”

Perper Residence Hall Rendering
Preliminary architectural rendering by Gensler

“We wanted to give to Lynn for student housing because we want to help build a place where kids feel at home while going to school,” says Mrs. Perper.

The Perpers moved to Boca Raton in 1978, where their name has become synonymous with giving. In recognizing their generous patronage to numerous community organizations, Lynn University presented the Perpers with its Boca Raton Award in 2005 for their philanthropy, civic achievement, vision and leadership. In 2011, Lynn awarded them honorary degrees.

Born in Philadelphia and a graduate of Temple University, Harold died in 2014 at the age of 94. He and Mary had been married for 55 years.

“Harold was a wonderful man,” says Kevin Johnson, longtime personal assistant to the Perpers. “He was good to everyone and took good care of his employees. He liked to help everyone. In D.C., at Thanksgiving time, he’d have the local police department invite the underprivileged kids in the area to one of the hotel restaurants. He would have the restaurant manager tell the children that the dinner was being paid for by the police so they would respect police officers. He did not have a bad word to say about anybody, and he loved talking to everyone.”

Mrs. Perper continues their philanthropic legacy at Lynn. “It’s like a family at Lynn,” she says. “We always felt that was a good place to give our money. I just love everything about it.”

The Perpers are acknowledged for their continued annual gifts in Lynn’s Leadership Society and the exclusive E.M. Lynn Society that recognizes donors who have made cumulative gifts of $1 million or more.

The Perpers forever leave their mark on the university they love.

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