|June 3, 2005
Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or
California State University, Bakersfield will present an honorary doctorate to local Realtor Bob Karpe at the 35th commencement on Saturday, June 11. President Horace Mitchell will present the doctorate of humane letters in recognition of Karpe’s contributions to the university.
Karpe is a founding member of the CSUB Foundation Board of Directors established in 1969, and has served on many committees during his tenure. In addition to his support of the CSUB athletics program, he has generously supported many scholarships and academic programs. He also received the CSUB President’s Medal in 2004, in recognition for his commitment to advancing education and improving life in Kern County.
“He’s a wonderful man,” said Jim Whitley, longtime friend, and retired CSUB physical education professor and administrator. Whitley has known Karpe since 1950. They both played college football together and were fraternity brothers. “He’s provided a lot of money to many philanthropic organizations. And the neat thing about Bob is that he doesn’t want any attention,” Whitley added. “He doesn’t want to be in the limelight.”
Karpe said he is very appreciative of the honor. “I’ve worked with the university since (CSUB’s first President Paul) Romberg was there when they first came to town,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to know various members of the faculty. It’s great we have (President) Horace Mitchell,” Karpe added. “He’ll be great for the school and our town.”
Karpe’s name has long been associated with Bakersfield. In business, in real estate, in athletics, and community service, he has excelled.
In the 1950s Karpe was known for his athletic prowess, first playing on a championship team at Bakersfield High School and then at the University of California, Berkeley. He was active at Cal, earning All-American honors playing tackle on the Golden Bears football team, receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration, and was valedictorian.
He returned to Bakersfield to join his father, Elmer Karpe in the real estate business. He joined a giant in the business, for it was his father who was called upon by the federal government to appraise the land that was to become Edwards Air Force Base and also the land for the Lake Isabella Dam project.
Bob Karpe incorporated Karpe Real Estate Center in 1959, serving as its president. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed Karpe California real estate commissioner. When Reagan became president, he asked Karpe to come to Washington to be president of the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA or Ginnie Mae). As president of the $68 billion per year corporation, he changed the auction system to net more dollars from sales. He initiated international marketing of GNMA securities, which has grown into a major method of financing low and middle-income housing.
Karpe has three adult children – Robert, Sandra, and Ray – and three grandsons. He has since turned the reins of his business over to his son, Ray, who now serves as president. Bob still serves as chairman of the board.
“Ray is a graduate of CSUB,” Karpe added. “… I’m delighted he went to CSUB. He’s done a remarkable job with his education.”
Ray Karpe is proud of his father and knows he has big shoes to fill. “It’s just unbelievable how much he has accomplished,” he said. “He’s got a great reputation in town for professionalism and integrity. The name Karpe means something here. … Just be honest and treat others how you want to be treated – that’s how he ran his company and that’s how I’m now running his company.”
This is the seventh honorary doctorate the university has awarded. Other recipients are veterinarian and legislator Walter Stiern in 1986, banker and businessman Ray Dezember in 1996, auto dealer Jim Burke in 1997, community volunteer Millie Ablin in 1998, and in 1999 both Bakersfield attorney and community activist Milton M. Younger and Bakersfield attorney and civic leader George Martin.
Karpe will receive his honorary doctorate at the commencement for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, which begins at 7:15 a.m. in the CSUB amphitheater.