Member Spotlight: Dianne (B.A., ’64) and Jim Harper (B.S., ’65)

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

During spring quarter of their freshman year at CSU, Dianne (B.A., ’64) and Jim Harper (B.S., ’65) went on a blind date and then married in the summer of 1963. They spent their pre-retirement years in Yuma, Colo., becoming part of its active CSU alumni community; Dianne served as president of the group for a time. They are Alumni Association Lifetime Members.

The Harpers at the Panama Canal
Jim and Dianne at the Panama Canal

Dianne grew up in Fort Collins. She had a great time in Green Hall, worked at the CSU Bookstore, and pledged Kappa Delta. She wanted to major in fashion design, but her mother gave her prescient advice: “Teachers can always find a job.” Sure enough, upon graduation, she was hired to teach English and French in Yuma. Later, she counseled K ̶ 8th grade students, then in the 1980s, returned to teaching high school English and coaching the forensics team.

When Colorado decided to develop statewide K-12 standards, curriculum, and instruction, which at that point only Alaska had done, Governor Roy Romer (B.A., ’50) appointed her to the committee that worked to establish them. The school district made her part time, allowing her to travel to school districts around the state and work with the legislature and state school board. Toward the end of her career, she spent five years working with the Colorado Department of Education to assist schools not meeting the standards.

Jim did not plan to go to college, but the summer after high school graduation, his mother pushed him to apply. Accepted after taking the ACT the week before school started, he was placed on academic probation after his first quarter. His second quarter, however, he got a job at the CSU Dairy Farm, where he had the 3 a.m. shift. That quarter, his grades improved significantly (perhaps due in part to making his 8 a.m. classes), earning him a spot on the Dean’s Honor Roll. He also worked with “Mama,” the CSU dairy cow that set world records for milk production  ̶  334,248 pounds in 10 years. A prima donna, Mama had to be milked by hand at specific times; her 8 p.m. milking cut into Jim and Dianne’s date nights!

CSU’s 1700-pound cow that produced more than 66 pounds of milk daily
CSU’s 1700-pound cow that produced more than 66 pounds of milk daily

Jim then joined the Dairy Judging Team, which qualified for the national contest. By the time the team returned to campus, he was so far behind in his classes he dropped out of school and went back to the farm, returning to CSU the following winter quarter and completing his degree. He then returned to Yuma, where Dianne was teaching, and became partner in Harper Dairy Farm. Over time, he learned artificial insemination techniques and helped create a breed registration system. He also served a term as president of the Colorado Holstein Association and worked with a 4-H Club (“Udderly Fantastics”).

The Harpers raised two daughters in Yuma. They moved back to Fort Collins after retirement, where they have a beautiful garden and enjoy Alumni Association events and College of Liberal Arts’ Great Conversations programs.