Sunday, December 17, 2017

Follow SDSU  Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook Follow SDSU on Google+ SDSU RSS Feed

John (left) and Jane Wills created The Wills Family Trust Endowed Scholarship to assist students, primarily in the Fowler College of Business. John (left) and Jane Wills created The Wills Family Trust Endowed Scholarship to assist students, primarily in the Fowler College of Business.
 


The Straight Line from Los Angeles to San Diego

Los Angeles-based alumnus John Wills leverages his Aztec connections to SDSU’s benefit.
By Coleen L. Geraghty
 

John Wills became a mentor even before he graduated from San Diego State University in 1965. His stepfather was a fellow student, and Wills helped him adjust to school life after a long career in the military.

“It was very special to have the chance to experience my father peer-to-peer,” Wills said. “We even shared some of the same classes.”

These days, close to retirement himself, Wills still mentors students and reconnects with other Aztecs through the Los Angeles Regional Council, one of seven regional alumni groups whose members support SDSU through fundraising, network building and investing in student success.

In 2012, Wills, along with others, assisted chair Gary Weiss (’79) to form the LA Regional Council. The council recruits alumni who are leaders in the entertainment, finance, aerospace and other industries, and who recognize the need to give back to their alma mater. In addition to other initiatives it supports, the LA Council was the first regional council to offer annual scholarships. These scholarships support SDSU students from the Los Angeles area.

Wills’ involvement has grown since then. He joined the National Leadership Council in 2016 and for the second year, he is one of several alumni organizing an annual Fall Forum, bringing regional council members together from all over the country to get acquainted and share best practices. The second annual event is scheduled for Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 20-22.

Figuring it out

Wills first returned to campus to help students with career development and discovered an affinity for the work.

“I started to get interested in helping the students get where they wanted to go,” he said. “In the ‘60s and ‘70s, most of us had to figure it out on our own.”

Wills did figure it out with a 30-year career as president and CEO of FLI Consulting, a company he founded to help Fortune 500 companies prepare their employees to leverage technology for greater efficiency and productivity.

The success of his company put Wills in a position to give back to SDSU. He and his wife, Jane, have created The Wills Family Trust Endowed Scholarship to assist students, primarily in the Fowler College of Business. As a regional council leader, he also encourages fellow alumni to join him in supporting SDSU.

“I try to explain to people who’ve had long, successful careers that it’s important to help because we all got a great start at SDSU, and that since we graduated, state funding to higher education has fallen so drastically,” he said. “For alumni from other Los Angeles area universities, giving back has been standard practice for decades.”