Why I Give: Dorothy (Houston) Kiser '65
Growing up in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, I had never heard of Hardin-Simmons nor been to Abilene. Harry Martin, my pastor, was a Hardin-Simmons graduate, and he "put a bug in my ear" about attending HSU. My mother died when I was only 14, and I had two younger sisters at home. Going to college didn't seem like a possibility financially, especially a Christian university.
My Home Economics teacher, Bonnie Dickinson, took me under her wing following my mother's death, and was a tremendous blessing. She was truly an encourager to me. Although Miss Dickinson was single and didn't have a lot of money, she somehow managed to pay for me to attend Hardin-Simmons. Because of her sacrifice for me, I feel indebted to Hardin-Simmons.
While I was a student at HSU, I met and fell in love with Allen Kiser, a young man stationed at Dyess AFB. I wanted to finish my degree before we married, so I took 18 hours per semester and attended school in the summers, graduating in three years. We had nearly 48 wonderful years together before he passed away in 2013. Following Allen's death, I established an endowed scholarship at Hardin-Simmons. Numerous friends and family also gave to it. It feels good to know that long after I'm gone, students will still benefit from our giving.
Not only did I graduate from HSU, but I spent over 30 years on the staff, with more than 25 of those years as registrar. I probably "graduated" more students and helped with more commencement ceremonies than any other staff member. Two of the accomplishments of which I'm most proud is putting transcripts online (including all the old permanent record cards dating from 1891 to 1988) and providing all the names, class years and degrees of the thousands of graduates whose names appear on the Alumni Wall, one of the most frequently visited places on campus. I also earned my MBA while working at HSU, of which I'm very proud.
Football was discontinued when I was a student. I was working at HSU when football was brought back in the early 1990s. I was very blessed to be on the committee that selected the coaches, including head coach Jimmie Keeling. That was a rewarding — and exciting — experience!
Through the years, I've made small gifts to a variety of causes at HSU that are important to me, including athletics, the Annual Scholarship Fund, endowed scholarships honoring or memorializing friends, and the Student Bible Project, among others.
My love for and involvement with HSU is just as strong now as it was when I was a student and an employee. I rarely miss a home football game, I attend basketball games as well as musical and theatrical performances, and I'm currently president of the former faculty/staff organization, the HSU Fellowship.
The reality is that there are many reasons why I give to HSU. However, the primary reason I give is because I feel like God wants me to do it. I don't know of a better reason than that.