Longtime UCLA supporters James and Carol Collins have donated $5 million to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to improve services and enhance well-being for older adults. The new Carol and James Collins Endowed Fund in Geriatric Medicine will enhance current programs and enable future investments in innovative research and education.

The gift will support such programs as the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, which helps patients and their families address home safety, caregiver support and other needs; the Medical Home Visit Program; and Generation Xchange, an intergenerational mentoring program that engages older volunteers in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms in South Los Angeles.

The fund also will help expand the professional pipeline of geriatricians. According to the American Geriatrics Society, fewer than 250 fellows completed geriatrics programs nationwide in 2016–2017. UCLA has produced 12 to 15 of those fellows annually for the last several years, but service demand is growing as the baby boomer generation ages.

To increase the number of qualified geriatricians, the Collins fund provides an opportunity to strengthen UCLA’s numerous fellowships, residencies and training programs for medical students and physicians. The VA-UCLA Multi-campus Fellowship Program in Geriatric Medicine, a partnership with the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, is one of the oldest, most sought-after fellowships in geriatric medicine in the nation and has graduated more than 200 geriatricians since 1981.

The Collinses’ gift for geriatrics extends their previous philanthropy in the area, which has included $1.25 million for the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program in 2012 and $1 million for the Alzheimer’s Risk Reduction Initiative in 2015. They also created the Carol and James Collins Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine, currently held by Dr. Brandon Koretz, who serves as co-chair of the division of geriatrics and will direct use of the new fund. 

James and Carol Collins met as UCLA undergraduates and have been active volunteers and donors to UCLA since their first gift in 1963. Carol Collins has served as a board member for Women & Philanthropy at UCLA and for what is now known as the UCLA Lab School, where she attended as a child.

James Collins entered the restaurant business after earning his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UCLA in 1950. He retired as CEO of Sizzler International Inc. in 1999 and now serves as its chairman emeritus. Among many other leadership roles at UCLA and in the community, he is chair emeritus of the executive committee for the Centennial Campaign for UCLA.

The couple’s latest gift is part of the campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.