By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
Philanthropist Bernard Rapoport spoke to students Tuesday from all three Abilene colleges on business ethics and public life.
Rapoport, who speaks to students on topics usually relating to business ethics, conducted one session at noon with students that was invitational only; student government leader representatives from ACU, Hardin-Simmons and McMurry universities and the Jack Pope Fellows scholarship recipients were invited. He also spoke to the general public at 7 p.m. in Hart Auditorium.
Rapoport said he likes to talk to different groups and organizations because it gives him an opportunity to share his experiences.
“I’ve been fortunate to have had so many experiences, and I’ve been exposed to some of the great people of our country,” Rapoport said. “I think it’s my obligation to share all that.”
After his first talk to student government representatives, Rapoport welcomed students’ questions on a variety of subjects, including business ethics and his opinion on scandals such as Enron.
Most of his speeches revolve around the topic of dealing with greed in the world and in business, Rapoport said.
Rapoport is the son of Russian Jewish immigrants and worked his way through the University of Texas at Austin during the Great Depression, said Dr. Mel Hailey, professor of political science and chair of the Political Science Department.
“He then went and opened his own insurance company,” Hailey said. “The rest they say is history.”
Rapoport built the insurance company, the American Income Life Insurance Company, up to its current multi-million dollar status, earning national honors along the way.
“Fortune Magazine now lists him as one of the top 40 most generous philanthropists,” Hailey said.
Though he’s now retired, Rapoport still regularly goes into his business offices in Waco when he’s not traveling talking to groups, Hailey said. He is also the head of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.