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Walter Pyramid benefactors offer glimpse into past

There are many who drop a large sum of money, have a building named after them and then disappear from the community, but that’s not the case with Mike and Arline Walter. 

The Long Beach Pyramid was officially renamed the Walter Pyramid in honor of the Walters on March 5, 2005.

The couple made a donation after the athletics department was facing a lack of funding.

“At that particular time — 1994 or 1995 — they were thinking of doing away with three or four sports,” Mike Walter said. “We didn’t want that and we said that we would give [the department] some money and make sure that question wouldn’t come up again. It shouldn’t come up again.”

The donation also resulted in the start of the Legacy Initiative for Athletics, a five-year fundraising campaign to support Long Beach State sports.

Today, Mike Walter remains at Cal State Long Beach as the executive assistant to President King F. Alexander and a professor in the College of Business Administration.

Arline Walter spends more than 40 hours a week working volunteer jobs at organizations such as the YMCA of greater Long Beach, the Assistance League of Long Beach and the Trinity Lutheran Church as well as groups within CSULB.

“I keep telling her: if she spends that many hours working, she might as well get paid for it,” Mike Walter joked.

The Walters move out west

From a line of occupations, Mike and Arline Walter came to CSULB because of family reasons.

Mike Walter had worked at the University of Michigan from 1969 until 1973 before entering Levi’s Strauss & Co. in San Francisco where he worked as senior vice president for four years.

While Mike was with Levi’s, Arline was vice president for Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.

When the Levi’s business went private, Mike Walter found a good opportunity to get out and took a job as the dean of St. Mary’s College of California — relatively close to their son who was attending Berkeley and their daughter who was enrolled in a high school in that area.

Arline Walter, at the time, worked as vice president and manager of the technology for the MIS Division of the Union Bank of California.

Both Mike and Arline Walter worked these positions for 10 years before moving to CSULB.

Once their children graduated, the Walters found it appropriate to move again. Mike Walter already had two job offers in Southern California.

“But [CSULB] is where my previous boss had been and I liked it,” Mike Walter said. “I just thought that this school, this university, had enormous potential and still does to this day.”

Naming the pyramid

The Walters don’t believe the only reason the pyramid is named after them is because of their large donation.

“The decision of the university to name the pyramid in our honor was not a result of our donations,” Mike Walter said. “[Maxson] thought it would be very good to name a building, an icon of the university, recognizing a professor,” he added, referring to former CSULB president Robert C. Maxson.

In the same manner, Arline Walter explained that the title was not the motive for their donation.

“It wasn’t a condition of the donation, it was tied to it in a sense,” Arline Walter said. “We didn’t say we’ll do this if you name it [after us].”

Maxson was the one who offered to name the pyramid after the Walters.

For a few years, Mike Walter had contacted various companies for donations and returned empty.

Then, the couple turned to friends to help add to the donation they were giving. Eventually, the money became very generous.

According to The Beach Review, the Walters donated $1.2 million to the athletics department. However, in total, the department received $2.3 million from contributing members.

“That was a part of why we did what we did — the idea that if we donated, there were three other families who would also donate money,” Arline Walter said.

Rooting for LBSU

The Walters try to attend every game that is held in the pyramid in addition to a few baseball games and track and field events.

Arline Walter, an avid basketball follower, attends every men’s basketball game and almost every women’s basketball game. 

“Wild horses couldn’t keep her away,” Mike Walter said.

In addition, she said she is a fan of the NBA — more specifically, the Los Angeles Lakers. 

“Basketball is a passion for me,” Arline Walter said. “It’s where my heart is!”

Similarly, Mike Walter said he attends every LBSU game that his schedule permits. 

 


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