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Faculty and Staff Step Up to Support UC San Diego

UC San Diego faculty and staff are on the frontlines of our students’ educational experience. They teach and mentor the next generation of innovators and leaders, fostering their intellectual and personal development. Others work day in and day out to advance solutions to our world’s most pressing challenges—ranging from climate change to social justice issues—or to deliver exceptional health care to patients in our region and beyond.

Yet, their impact doesn’t end there. Many of our faculty and staff are taking their dedication one step further by donating to campus areas that enhance the student experience, enrich our campus community and spark breakthroughs in research and innovation. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, gifts from nearly 1,400 faculty and staff provided more than $5.8 million to support UC San Diego.

Meet a few of our faculty and staff philanthropists:

Professor emerita creates “virtual endowment” for literature students

Susan Kirkpatrick

Susan Kirkpatrick, professor emerita of Spanish Literature, is creating the Kirkpatrick Literature Ph.D. Research Fund to provide research support for incoming doctoral students in the Department of Literature. The fund will provide an annual award of $2,000, with the aim of helping the department compete for the nation’s best graduate students.

To fund the award, Kirkpatrick is taking a unique approach: a virtual endowment. She has made arrangements in her estate plans for a bequest to endow the fund; however, to enable the department to start awarding the prize now, she has pledged to make annual gifts to support the first five research fellows. This arrangement allows the department to recognize exceptional literature students now, and in perpetuity.

Kirkpatrick, whose research has focused on the literature and culture of Spain in the 19th and 20th centuries, notes that UC San Diego’s nontraditional, cross-disciplinary approach to the field of literature sets it apart from other institutions. Yet, competing for the best students remains a challenge.

“I am well aware from my experience as a professor and as chair of the Department of Literature that it has been difficult to recruit top level graduate students when other prestigious universities offer them higher stipends and research support than our department could,” she said. “I hope that having a small research fellowship to add to the support package of an outstanding potential graduate student will enable the department to compete more successfully.”

Getting in the habit of giving back

Ken Tomory

For staff member Ken Tomory, philanthropy is not a one-time commitment. Each year, he and his partner, Marty, choose a UC San Diego area they wish to support through a payroll deduction of $100 per month for one year. Their giving has benefited areas ranging from Birch Aquarium, to Jacobs Medical Center and the Triton 5K Scholarship.

“This year, we chose the Triton Food Pantry because no student should go hungry,” said Tomory. “Over the years, we have provided about $15,000 in support of these various causes. Every gift, every amount, makes a difference.”

Tomory came to UC San Diego in 1999 and has served a number of departments. He is currently an administrative officer for Student Retention and Success (SRS), developing and managing the administrative, financial and human resources infrastructure of the department.

“I’m proud of being able to work at such an incredible institution, and of what we do for our students,” said Tomory. “In SRS, we work with non-traditional students—undocumented, underrepresented, foster youth, first-generation and international students—and provide services to foster their personal and academic success. Listening to their stories, it overwhelms me to know that our team had a part in their journey and success. It’s humbling!”

Fostering community, dialogue and connection on campus

Fnann Keflezighi

Photo credit: © eeman agrama 2012-2017, myownbeat photography.

“For me it’s not a matter of should you give,” says Fnann Keflezighi, a 2011 UC San Diego graduate and assistant director of Residential Life at Thurgood Marshall College. “It’s about identifying where to give based on the impact you want to make.”

As a first-generation college graduate, Keflezighi knows from experience the unique challenges and opportunities that students who are the first in their families to attend college face. That’s why she gives to the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) and the Black Resource Center—two spaces that were important to her success as an undergraduate, and that continue to provide community and support for today’s students, staff and alumni.

Keflezighi started her undergraduate career as a biology major and later switched to ethnic studies, pursuing her passion for studying the social issues that shape our world. Now as a staff member, she brings that passion to developing programs that cultivate student scholarship, leadership and community.

“I’m proud of the ways our faculty, staff and students strive toward an equitable and inclusive world, crafting potential solutions to various social justice issues,” she said. “It gives me a lot of joy to give back to initiatives that impact our students’ experience.”

Supporting student access and faculty excellence

Charles Tu

UC San Diego has amassed many accolades in recognition of its status as a world-class research university. Yet, there’s one that Charles Tu, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, is most proud of: being named one of the nation’s best public universities for its dedication to upward social mobility, research and public service by both Washington Monthly magazine and the New York Times.

Tu is passionate about supporting student access to higher education. He is the director—and a generous supporter—of the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at UC San Diego. The four-week residential program invites promising high school students to work alongside researchers to explore topics beyond the standard high school curriculum. Through his philanthropic gifts, Tu helps make financial aid available to students who otherwise may not be able to participate.

In addition to COSMOS, Tu gives back through Chancellor’s Associates, a group of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and community champions who are dedicated to philanthropy. Chancellor’s Associates gifts recognize faculty excellence in research, teaching, performing and visual arts and community service, as well as provide scholarships for local high-achieving students with financial need to attend UC San Diego.

“UC San Diego has provided me with a fulfilling research and teaching career, and I am proud to support the university,” said Tu. “I hope that my contributions will help to increase student access to UC San Diego’s wonderful programs.”

All faculty and staff gifts—of any size and to any fund—help UC San Diego achieve excellence, and contribute to the Campaign for UC San Diego, our $2 billion comprehensive fundraising effort to transform the student experience, our campus and ultimately the way humanity approaches problems and develops solutions. To learn more about gifts that are making an impact on campus, go here.