University News

Marion Anderson, philanthropist and namesake of UCLA management school

Marion Anderson

Marion Anderson.

Marion Anderson, who with her late husband, John, provided the UCLA Anderson School of Management with transformational gifts that positioned the school as a global leader in management education, died on May 14 in Los Angeles.

“Marion’s generosity will be felt for generations,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a message to the campus community. “Her philanthropy continues to enhance learning opportunities for our students and to support our faculty so that they can remain leaders in their fields. And when Marion Anderson Hall is completed, it will provide greater evidence of her unwavering commitment to our campus.”

“She passed peacefully, adored by her family and the many friends who love and admire her,” said Judy Olian, dean of the UCLA Anderson School, the John E. Anderson Chair in Management and a personal friend. “She and her late husband, John, are our school’s pillars and namesakes, leaving us a legacy that includes our name, the physical campus that bears it and a defining set of values that they both lived and inspired.”

In 1987, the school was named in honor of John Anderson when the couple made their first gift to the school. He had earned a degree in business administration at UCLA in 1940 and later founded Topa Equities Ltd. He died in 2011 at the age of 93.

Following his death, Marion Anderson became chairman of Topa Equities and, together with her children, ran the company that her husband had founded and led. She also continued their lifelong commitment to philanthropy, including to such causes as Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, the YMCA and many other important institutions in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

In 2015, UCLA celebrated Marion Anderson’s monumental gift of $100 million, the largest gift the management school has ever received. In addition to long-term funding for students and faculty research, her gift will support a new building that will one day be part of the UCLA Anderson complex and be named Marion Anderson Hall.

“I am gratified that Marion blessed the plans for the new building,” said Olian in a letter to the school community. A groundbreaking ceremony has been in the planning stages.

Marion Anderson believed that philanthropy was about purpose and responsibility to the next generation, said Olian. “Marion said, ‘Philanthropy doesn’t have to be just about money. No matter how much or how little, get involved. When you do, you really begin to understand the meaning of what philanthropy is, of what caring is. You get so much back.’”

Anderson grew up in Los Angeles, where she met her husband. They were married for 44 years and together enjoyed an extensive family that included four children from his previous marriage, 15 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

As a member of the school’s Board of Advisors and its executive committee for the past six years, she attended many events at UCLA Anderson and took great pleasure in meeting students and faculty and hearing about their achievements and the impact they were having on the community.

“That the school has lost its matriarch on Mother’s Day is especially poignant, but John and Marion’s legacy will forever shine brightly, guide us and inspire us … always,” Olian said.

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