A La Salle alumnus has made a seven-figure commitment to the University aimed at strengthening the two athletics programs for which he holds personal affinity.
John J. Connors, ’76, J.D., CPA, LLM, who leads a national accounting consulting practice, has made a bequest exceeding $1 million. When fully funded, the planned gift—in large majority—will provide financial support for La Salle’s men’s basketball program. It also will benefit the men’s golf program.
Connors suited up for University’s men’s basketball team in parts of two seasons, including the 1974-75 campaign in which the Explorers spent seven weeks in the top-25 national rankings and reached the NCAA tournament. His father, John T. Connors, ’48, coached the men’s golf team at La Salle during his 25-year tenure as a faculty member of the sociology department.
“My family owes La Salle so much and, when I say that, I want anyone hearing it to know that this bequest is so heartfelt,” Connors said. “Without La Salle, we don’t have anything else. That’s why I am doing this—why I am giving half of what I have to La Salle.”
“All of what happened for me was so fortuitous,” John Connors said. “It’s a credit to La Salle. It’s a place that has always been, and continues to be, so student-oriented. They care. The faculty care. They reach out well beyond the walls of the classroom. They take time to know you and spend time with you. That’s the intangible, what truly sets La Salle apart.”
“One thing that was clear to me upon first meeting John was his deep-rooted love of La Salle,” said Brian Baptiste, Vice President of Athletics and Recreation at La Salle University. “He truly cares about the University, and the bequest demonstrates this in an overwhelming way. John’s gift will help us transform and elevate the student-athlete experience at La Salle. It provides yet another example of an Explorer giving back. We are extremely appreciative of John and his family, and we are so thankful for their support of our athletics program.”
Born in 1953, Connors is a native of Drexel Hill, Pa., in nearby Delaware County. He is one of three children born to the aforementioned John T. and Anna Connors. Margaret, ’72, and Patricia, ’78, also graduated from La Salle.
For John J. Connors, La Salle represented a gateway to education. An introduction to accounting principles course, taught by the late John F. “Jack” Reardon, ’59, Ed.D., set Connors on his path toward a future in the accounting profession.
He never anticipated all that followed—playing basketball on scholarship for Paul Westhead, who went on to coach four NBA teams, and building professional connections that led to a Rhodes Scholarship nomination, full-time employment at the predecessor to PricewaterhouseCoopers, and acceptance to law school at the University of Notre Dame.
These outcomes, he said, aren’t usually reserved for students like him.
“I was just a hard-working kid who studied accounting and held down a job in what was then Hayman Hall,” Connors said. “I was checking IDs at the door and working as a lifeguard for the Christian Brothers while they swam laps in the evening. I was helping staffers load in the bleachers through the third-floor windows of this new arena.”
“All of what happened for me was so fortuitous,” he continued. “It’s a credit to La Salle. It’s a place that has always been, and continues to be, so student-oriented. They care. The faculty care. They reach out well beyond the walls of the classroom. They take time to know you and spend time with you. That’s the intangible, what truly sets La Salle apart.”
Today, Connors is based in Milwaukee, Wisc. He meets regularly with tax practitioners and travels the country as a renowned national speaker on a variety of tax topics, like income and estate tax planning.
Every stage of Connors’ career has provided opportunities to speak not only about his profession, but also the benefits of a La Salle education.
“I would tell anyone—La Salle has done so much for me and my family,” Connors said. “It’s time for me, and every graduate of La Salle, to give back.”
—Christopher A. Vito