This Week @ UC San Diego

October 18, 2011 | By Judy Piercey

Campus Leverages Milestone Anniversary to Raise Critically-Needed Funds

beach cleanup

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox hands out T-shirts to volunteers at a beach cleanup as part of Volunteer50.
Photo/Erik Jepsen

In a memorable 2010-2011 fiscal year, the University of California, San Diego celebrated its 50th Anniversary, was named first in the nation for “what colleges are doing for the country” and hosted the Clinton Global Initiative University. The campus leveraged the amazing visibility generated from its milestone celebration to raise $120.7 million in critically-needed private support, with $11.0 million committed to the Invent the Future: The UC San Diego Student Support Campaign.

“As we move forward into our 51st year, the bar we’ve set will rise even higher,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “We will continue to evolve and adapt to the changing world by seeking new opportunities and reliable sources of funding to support and maintain our tradition of innovation and our culture of service.”

UC San Diego received gifts and grants from more than 28,000 donors who supported causes across the campus. Less than 8 percent of the university’s operating budget comes from State of California funds for education. Yet that small investment results in significant impact to the region in terms of the economy, healthcare, skilled workforce, businesses, jobs and so much more.

Former President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton reaches down to shake hands with students during the Clinton Global Initiative University conference, which brought 1,000 students from around the world to campus. Photo/Erik Jepsen

The milestone anniversary inspired a generous and unexpected $2 million donation from Audrey Geisel (widow of author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel) to jumpstart the renovation of University House. Corporate partners, including Visionary Sponsors Cubic Corporation, Qualcomm and Sempra Energy, helped to fund 50th Anniversary events; other organizations donated a percentage of merchandise sales to Invent the Future. A $1 million grant from the Amgen Foundation also supported students, providing hands-on laboratory experience to approximately 100 undergraduates through the Amgen Scholars program.

San Diego philanthropists and longtime residents Steve and Lisa Altman pledged $10 million to the planned Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) building, to be constructed on UC San Diego’s medical campus in La Jolla. Steve Altman is president of Qualcomm, Inc.; he and his wife, Lisa, have been generous patrons of many local and national charities. Their annual charity event, “Rock the Cure,” has raised money in support of research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

As part of its yearlong 50th Anniversary celebration, the university launched Volunteer50: Chancellor’s Call to Service. More than 3,300 members of the UC San Diego community donated over 62,000 hours of service, contributing roughly $1.5 million in free labor. The campus was recognized by the Washington Monthly as No. 1 in the nation in rankings measuring “what colleges are doing for the country.” UC San Diego’s commitment to community service inspired former President Bill Clinton to bring 1,000 student social entrepreneurs from around the globe to campus to take part in the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative University conference, which helps students turn their ideas into action.


Nearly 700 people converged in RIMAC to pay homage and celebrate UC San Diego's 50th Anniversary as part of Celebrate50.

A combination of volunteerism and philanthropy honored Léon Roach III, a beloved track and field student-athlete who was fatally injured in 2009. “Vault-a-thons” raised more than $37,000, while 180 volunteers completed a memorial spectator terrace that would have cost an estimated $350,000.

Thanks to the support of 8,082 alumni, the 2010-2011 Alumni Participation Campaign to engage graduates and encourage participation in giving was the most successful in the university’s history. Despite tough economic times, alumni were more than willing to invest in UC San Diego. Ken Kroner and his wife, Jennifer, made a $1 million gift to fund the Kroner Family Endowed Fellowship in Social Sciences.

With a gift of $265,000 to her alma mater, alumna Wendy Kwok will provide scholarship support for outstanding UC San Diego undergraduates majoring in biological sciences. “With increased budget cuts and current state of the economy, the State of California is investing less in the education of University of California students, so this gift is an attempt to sustain the stellar UC San Diego experience that I appreciated,” said Kwok.

Other generous donors provided support through both leadership and legacy gifts as well as grants:

  • $3.5 million in grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for Calit2 and Marine Sciences research;
  • $3.5 million bequest from Arthur and Carol Murray to support cancer and retina research;
  • $3 million bequest from Patty Morris to fund arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease research;
  • $2.4 million grant by the Hellman Family Foundation to support junior faculty members;
  • More than $2 million from Irwin and Joan Jacobs to support the School of Engineering;
  • $2 million pledge from Matthew and Iris Strauss to create the Strauss Center for the Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer;
  • $1.8 million bequest from Allen and Pearl Reiter to endow research at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging;
  • Nearly $1.5 million from Qualcomm to support research, faculty, and students in a variety of areas on campus;
  • $1 million from the James B. Ax Family Foundation to support the UC San Diego Center for Astrophysics; and
  • $800,000 gift for stem cell and breast cancer research from the Ratner Family Fund.

UC San Diego shapes minds, changes lives, launches industries and builds the future … one student, one discovery and one achievement at a time. For more information about supporting the university, please visit

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