University News

UCLA mourns death of John E. Anderson, namesake of Anderson School of Management


John E. Anderson, a UCLA alumnus, entrepreneur and longtime UCLA supporter whose name graces the UCLA Anderson School of Management, has died.

Anderson, who was president of Topa Equities Ltd., died Friday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was 93.

“John Anderson has forever enriched not only UCLA but also the lives of countless members of the Los Angeles community through his family’s generous support of health care and social welfare organizations throughout our city,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “On our campus, his visionary philanthropy will continue to create opportunities for generations of entrepreneurs at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. We mourn the loss of a distinguished alumnus, leader and friend, and we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Marion Anderson, and the Anderson family.”

“John’s gifts to others were innumerable, sharing his wisdom, time, leadership talents and financial support,” said Judy Olian, dean of UCLA Anderson, in a message to the business school’s community. “Our history, built over 75 years, owes so much to John’s leadership, engagement, contagious enthusiasm, bold vision and longtime support.”

John and Marion Anderson have donated nearly $42 million to the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In recognition of their first gift, in 1987, the school was named the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA. Their most recent gift, announced this April, provided $25 million to be applied to a broad range of strategic initiatives involving research, curriculum and student support.

The Andersons’ philanthropy also has supported the dean’s John E. Anderson Chair in Management and the Marion Anderson Chair in Management, as well as the school’s Marion Anderson Courtyard.

“I was very lucky to come to UCLA on a scholarship, and I’ve never forgotten that,” Anderson said in April. “The lessons and values I learned while attending UCLA shaped my thinking throughout my business and community life and helped build my business reputation. Giving back to the school is my way of enabling future generations to have the kind of opportunities that UCLA offered me. It is simply doing the right thing.”

In 1995, Anderson received the highest honor bestowed by UCLA, the UCLA Medal, for contributions to his profession and society. He served as president of The UCLA Foundation from 1990 to 1992 and was a member and former chairman of the UCLA Anderson board of visitors.

After graduating from UCLA in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he received an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business and a law degree from the Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles. Until his death, he was president of Topa Equities Ltd., which owns and operates 33 businesses involved in agriculture, insurance, real estate, wholesale beverage distribution and automotive dealerships.

Anderson was a former chairman of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, a trustee and former president of the St. John’s Hospital and Health Center Foundation, and a trustee of Claremont McKenna College. In 2002, he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award at UCLA Anderson. He was named Southern California Entrepreneur of the Year in 1987, Outstanding Individual Philanthropist on National Philanthropy Day in 1988, Master Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002 and Business Person of the Year by the Business Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Anderson family history bears many connections to UCLA. John and Marion’s sons, William and John Jr., completed their J.D. and M.B.A. degrees, respectively, at UCLA, and their daughter, Judy Munzig, serves on the board of the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA Anderson.  

A memorial service for the UCLA Anderson community will be held on campus, Olian said. Details will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that any donations be made to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles or to the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

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