UC San Diego News Center


Conrad Prebys Funds First Endowed Faculty Chair in UC San Diego’s Music Department

$1 million endowed chair created through UC’s Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs to recruit and retain top-flight faculty

Photo: Conrad Prebys

Conrad Prebys

When he realized he had neither the talent nor the dedication to be a career musician, San Diego builder Conrad Prebys chose a different path. But his passion for music never wavered, and since 2007, he has generously given to the Division of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, San Diego to help ensure that the facilities, faculty and programs will continue to launch students into successful music careers.

Today, UC San Diego announced the latest gift from the philanthropist—the $1 million Conrad Prebys Presidential Chair in Music to support scholarly activity and graduate fellowships in the chair holder’s department. His gift of $500,000 was matched by the University of California as part of the UC system’s Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs to encourage donors to establish endowed faculty chairs. The chair holder has not yet been selected.

“Music is a true passion of mine and has been a great part of my life,” said Prebys. Over the years, he has demonstrated his love of music by supporting UC San Diego’s renowned department of music. A $6 million donation was made to the campus’ state-of-the-art facility, now named the Conrad Prebys Music Center, and a $3 million gift established the Conrad Prebys Music Endowment. The Music Center’s crowning jewel—the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, considered one of the greatest small concert halls in the world—was named in recognition of Prebys’ philanthropy.

“We thank Conrad Prebys for establishing a lasting legacy through the Conrad Prebys Presidential Chair in Music,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “His tremendous generosity underscores our esteemed music faculty’s innovative approach to composition, improvisation and performance that is important to our campus and to the greater community as well.”

Prebys said, “The creation of the Conrad Prebys Presidential Chair in Music is a testament to the value that I place on the long-term sustainability of the UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities and faculty achievement. Endowed chairs are critical to attracting and retaining exceptional scholars.”

Photo: Conrad Prebys Music Hall

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

In July 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano announced the Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs that initially allocates $4 million per campus for use as an incentive to encourage donors to establish endowed faculty chairs. It is funded through the Presidential Endowment Fund, a source of private donations that the president may use at her discretion to support university activities. Each President’s Match will be $500,000. Campuses must raise at least $500,000 per chair in donor funds to qualify for the match.

Endowed chairs are vital to the University of California’s efforts to attract and retain top-flight faculty. Once established, endowed chairs will provide a dedicated source of funds, in perpetuity, for the chair holder’s scholarly activities as well as support for faculty salaries and graduate fellowships. Donors who endow chairs are not only ensuring excellence in higher education today, but also contributing to the university’s future growth, innovation and success.

Conrad Prebys, president of San Diego-based Progress Construction and Management, has built a successful career as a real estate developer and property manager, with a focus on affordable housing. He has also made a great impact in the region with his philanthropy. In addition to giving to the UC San Diego department of music, he has supported the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and The Preuss School UCSD. Prebys’ generosity and leadership throughout the San Diego community includes gifts to the San Diego Zoo, Scripps Health, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego State University, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Boys and Girls Club, KPBS and Salk Institute, among others.

UC San Diego’s department of music, founded by composers over 40 years ago, today spans a spectrum of music from classical to contemporary, including jazz, Hindustani, computer and experimental music. The faculty includes distinguished scholars, performers, composers and computer music researchers.

“The department of music is extremely proud of our association with Mr. Prebys,” noted Rand Steiger, department chair and professor of composition. “His transformational gifts—naming the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall and the Conrad Prebys Music Center—will benefit students and faculty for generations to come, and we will be forever grateful to him for this. That he has chosen to again support us by funding the first endowed chair in the history of our department is another extraordinary gift. The Conrad Prebys Presidential Chair will enable us to recruit and retain leading faculty members, while also enabling us to support graduate student fellowships.”

Private charitable donations are becoming increasingly critical to support California’s public universities. UC San Diego—recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 public universities—raised $148.3 million in private support in fiscal year 2013-2014. Nearly 30,000 donors helped to fund UC San Diego’s strategic plan commitment to being a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public institution that provides opportunity for all.

For more information about giving to UC San Diego’s department of music, Click here.

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