Ralph Conner may not have taken the path of a traditional Central Washington University student, but that hasn’t stopped him from engaging with Central by giving back his time, talents, and resources to help current and future generations of Wildcats.
As a non-traditional student who transferred from Yakima Valley College, Conner enrolled at Central to pursue his degree in accounting. Upon graduating in 1988 at the age of 31, Conner began what would turn into a life-long career in public accounting. He started out at a local practice which later merged with a regional firm, then merged again with CliftonLarsonAllen in 2010, which is now the eighth largest firm in the country.
Living in Yakima and commuting to Central while he earned his degree caused Conner to not be involved in many university activities outside of his classes. It wasn’t until about 20 years after he had graduated from Central that he became engaged with the university again.
“President Gaudino and Scott Wade really expanded their outreach to the Yakima community and invited me to participate in Central activities which blossomed into me understanding more about what was going on at Central,” said Conner. “Now I’m more involved and look at the opportunities Central created for me and my professional career, and the potential of what Central can do in the community; educating students and impacting student lives.”
Now, Conner serves on the CWU Accounting Advisory Board, the finance and audit committee for the Foundation, and the CWU Foundation Board of Directors and was also honored as a CWU Distinguished Alumni in 2013.
“I have a lot of opportunities and successes from my education at Central and want to see others have those opportunities,” said Conner. “I think you get out as much personally as you give, and I think it’s been really rewarding to be engaged in the Foundation and involved in Central, seeing what I can do to help impact student lives.”
Conner will be retiring from CliftonLarsonAllen at the end of the year after 30 years as an accountant. He will also continue to serve Central by transitioning from secretary to vice chair of the CWU Foundation Board of Directors this month.