Bill and Debbie Hopper feel an affection for TROY that nearly 50 years of living, participating, and thriving in the community have nurtured. Still, they continue to give back to the university where their life together began.
Previously, the Hoppers established two scholarships named for Bill’s parents, both of whom continued their education at TROY. Their most recent gift of $25,000 will support the Troy Athletic Leadership Society, with the aim that such a donation will help the athletic department continue to achieve its full potential.
“Whatever funds I give, I hope they’re used to keep improving the athletic department we have,” Bill Hopper said. As an avid fan of TROY athletics, Hopper whole-heartedly believes in the power possessed by student athletes. He looks forward to seeing the athletic department and the Troy Athletic Leadership Society continue to build strong student athletes of high moral character, on and off the field.
Donating to TROY has profound meaning for the Hoppers. Their alma mater gave them the tools they needed to start building their lives. As a student, Debbie Hopper participated in The Sound of the South and graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in Education, hoping to become a teacher. In 1972, Bill Hopper earned a degree in Business Administration and Accounting with a minor in Art History.
“At the time, Troy State University had the right feel,” remembers Hopper. “Once we got there, it provided the full college experience: academics, a social life and ultimately, growing up.”
The two met in Eldridge Dining Hall and married in the fall of 1972. They have kept a house in Troy ever since.
“Obviously, there’s a little love for the institution,” Hopper jokingly understates.
The Hoppers now consider themselves a thoroughly “Troy” family, after both their children and their son-in-law also attended the university. Adam, their son, followed his father’s lead and received his BS and MBA in Accounting, while their daughter Lindsay pursued a BS in Marketing and later a Master’s in Public Administration.
“Even our oldest grandson told Debbie back in July, ‘You know, I think I’m going to come to Troy and live with y’all,” laughs Bill Hopper, “and he’s only twelve!”
A particular friendship developed during the Hoppers’ time at TROY that had a monumental impact on their lives. As students, Debbie and Bill Hopper found mentors in former Troy State University Chancellor Ralph Adams and his wife.
“Dr. Adams was a very caring, personable individual who cared a lot about the students,” Bill Hopper said. “He looked at young people and saw their potential.” Debbie Hopper took classes from Mrs. Adams, and Bill Hopper’s experience as a senator in TROY’s Student Government Association started a long, pivotal friendship with the Chancellor.
The Adams’ affection extended to the Hoppers’ children. One Halloween, Debbie and Bill took their very young children up to the Adams’ house to trick or treat. Bill Hopper remembers Mrs. Adams opened the door and immediately ushered them inside.
“She sent me into the kitchen with Dr. Adams, then took the kids and put anything and everything in their bags,” Hopper said. The Adams’ rarely had children come trick or treating, and they took the opportunity to spoil Adam and Lindsay.
“They treated our children like their grandchildren,” Hopper said.
Hopper embraced the chance to work under Dr. Adams as the Senior Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, after fifteen years as Director of Higher Education Audits for the State of Alabama. The job only served to deepen Hopper’s ties to the university and his respect for Dr. Adams.
“I don’t know whether I was ready or not, but Dr. Adams had confidence in my ability,” Hopper said. He observed how Dr. Adams conducted his work and discovered a valuable life lesson that remained with him through his career. “Dr. Adams hired good people to do the job, then trusted them to do their job well,” Hopper said. This in turn helped Hopper trust in his abilities.
The relationships offered by the university and wider Troy community have meant the world to the Hoppers.
“As you deepen the connection, you bleed TROY,” says Hopper. Coming from a military upbringing, TROY provided Hopper with a reliable place where he could settle and create a fulfilling life. “I’d never dreamed of living in one place, but this is home,” he says.
The Hoppers’ ties to the university and town have only strengthened over the years as they have discovered new ways to get involved in the community. “Troy offers a lot of things to do if you look for it,” says Hopper. Hopper himself serves as Chairman of the Board for the Johnson Center for the Arts, a role he has held for four years. The artistic world opened a new group of friends and colleagues that Hopper welcomed enthusiastically. He also enjoys staying active in TROY’s National Alumni Association and the City Planning Commission, of which he has been chairman for nearly 30 years.
Ultimately, their love and belief in TROY lead the Hoppers to give back to the university.
“I always make a point to ensure I’m donating in some fashion to those causes that are important to me, and that includes in the university,” Hopper said. He hopes that other alumni and friends of the university recognize the impact of helping TROY achieve its ever growing potential. He recognizes that “every department on campus has a purpose in the overall development of its students.”
For the Hoppers, the university touches their hearts because the time they spent there laid the foundation for a full, satisfying life.
“People should identify what they love and concentrate their resources on those things,” Hopper said. “Contribute your time, talents and financial resources to make the world a better place.”
Hopper believes that if people focus on how to improve the community around them, then they can have an incredible effect on someone’s life. He wants others to realize that, “What matters in life is not what you have accomplished for yourself, but what part you have played in making the lives of others better while you’ve lived.”