University News

David Geffen to receive UCLA's highest honor at medical school graduation

Chancellor Block will present UCLA Medal to entertainment magnate, influential philanthropist on May 30

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Entertainment magnate and philanthropist David Geffen will receive the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, during the David Geffen School of Medicine’s Hippocratic Oath Ceremony on Friday, May 30.

"David Geffen exemplifies the spirit of optimism and innovation that is the hallmark of UCLA," said Chancellor Gene Block, who will present the medal. "By advocating for the arts, health care and human rights, he has served as a powerful force for enhancing human welfare, and as an exemplary role model in the UCLA community."

Geffen, creator of the highly successful Asylum and Geffen record labels and co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, has a longstanding record of generosity toward UCLA. In 1995, he donated $10 million toward UCLA's Westwood Playhouse, which was renamed the Geffen Playhouse.

He was already a well-known philanthropist when he made a $200 million unrestricted gift to UCLA's medical school in 2002 — the largest ever given to the University of California and UCLA, and, at the time, the largest single donation ever made to a U.S. medical school. The funding helped propel the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to its current status as a world-class institution for education and research.

In 2012, Geffen established the $100 million merit-based David Geffen Medical Scholarships. The program’s scholarships cover the entire cost of a medical education for nearly 20 percent of entering students, enabling them to pursue their dreams and graduate debt-free. Unprecedented in medical school history, the gift has inspired other institutions to substantially increase financial support for their medical students.

"Mr. Geffen recognized early on that one of his defining missions was to find and nurture talent," said Dr. A. Eugene Washington, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and vice chancellor for health sciences. "As a result of his generosity and vision, more of our students are aspiring to careers based on their passion, and the School is creating more distinguished leaders in health and science to meet the challenging health needs of our society."

The UCLA Medal is bestowed on those with exceptionally distinguished academic and professional achievement whose bodies of work or contributions to society illustrate the highest ideals of UCLA. National and international leaders in government, education, science, industry and the arts have been honored with the medal, including President Bill Clinton, UCLA alumnus and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, basketball coach John Wooden, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, UCLA alumna and astronaut Anna L. Fisher, and several Nobel laureates.

Founded in 1951, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA employs more than 2,500 full-time faculty members, including recipients of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and the National Medal of Science. Nearly 10,155 candidates apply each year for one of 175 spaces in the first-year class. Enrollment totals more than 860 students and almost 400 Ph.D. candidates.

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