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Dr. Rufus Glasper

Dr. Rufus Glasper is from a family of six brothers and a sister. He left his hometown Chicago and came to Arizona with his family in 1986. It was a cultural shock to find a sparse population of Blacks and it was rare to see another black person then. He came to work for the Maricopa County Community Colleges where there were few black administrators. Glasper was the first operating deputy to be hired there. Since being here, he has seen growth and changes in the Valley. Other Blacks have arrived taking over prominent roles at the helm of various corporations.

Dr. Rufus GlasperHis dad, who was a businessman, was his role model. “Was not the best businessman,” said Dr. Glasper, “nonetheless he inspired me.” Another real inspiration was the experience he suffered from the words of an adviser. Glasper had hopes of becoming a teacher, but chose to study business instead when he read an evaluation his adviser had written “that he was glad that Rufus had decided to teach in the inner city schools of Chicago, because he doubted that Rufus would make it in the highly demanding business world.” That comment inspired him to prove this man wrong. With Bachelors and Masters degrees at twenty-seven years old, and a healthy black beard, no one knew how old he was. Rufus Glasper used these things to his advantage and using his knowledge, ability, and faith he went on to become the Director of Financial Planning and Budgeting for the Chicago Public schools. Like Nelson Mandela who exemplified strength, endurance and the ability to survive, Dr. Glasper believed that right would prevail.

Dr. Glasper has done his share of marching for the Martin Luther King cause. His other civic duties include being an active member on several boards such as the Maricopa County Hospital Health Systems, the Phoenix Urban League and the NAACP. Among his many awards, Glasper received the Roy Wilkins Award for leadership, hard work and dedication to the ideals of the NAACP and the Kellogg Foundation Fellowship in Community College Leadership. 

My message to young people is “Believe in yourself. You don’t need to know everything, but you need to be able to ask a question and have a network to go to for the answers and be willing to listen to them.”

© Lyda Y. Harris

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