A native of New York, Robert Barbera moved to Southern California in 1955. He earned an accounting degree at California State University, Los Angeles, in 1958. The dean of the accounting department took him under her wing, helping him to secure some scholarships that would make tuition affordable for the young newlywed. The experience instilled in him a heightened sense of the value of education and a tremendous appreciation for the benefactors who make it possible — and whom he has since strived to emulate.

The founder and CEO of Barbera Property Management, which owns several businesses in the San Gabriel Valley, Mr. Barbera is a dedicated philanthropist, giving generously to numerous educational organizations. Having come to know Thomas Aquinas College well over the years, he is particularly impressed with its unique academic program. “It is only in liberal education that we can truly further ourselves,” he says. “With liberal education you broaden the mind.”

This assessment has been confirmed, he adds, by his meetings with the College’s students. “You couldn’t be more impressed with a better quality of people. At Thomas Aquinas, you really see the best of the best.”

The Barberas have for many years been faithful and generous friends of the College. Their gifts include the funds for the design and construction of the prayer garden on the south side of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Calling his appointment to the Board “a great opportunity” to be part of “a great place,” Mr. Barbera enjoys working on its behalf. “I just hope that I can do my part for Thomas Aquinas, and to encourage other people to help in the process,” he says.