Centennial Campaign for UCLA

UCLA sets fundraising record with $664 million in 2015–16

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Geffen Academy website screen grab
Screen grab

Geffen Academy website.

For the third year in a row, UCLA shattered its fundraising record, receiving a total of $664 million in gifts and pledges in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Donations of all sizes came in during 2015–16 from a record 61,740 donors to support an array of priorities, including undergraduate scholarships, endowed professorships and graduate student fellowships. Approximately 95 percent of the total number of gifts were for less than $10,000.

The last fiscal year marked the fourth consecutive year of growth in philanthropic giving for the university. This auspicious achievement came as the Centennial Campaign for UCLA reached the halfway point. The $4.2 billion campaign was publicly launched in May 2014 and is scheduled to conclude in 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

“I am extremely gratified by the overwhelming generosity shown by tens of thousands of people around the world who share our vision for UCLA’s next century,” said Rhea Turteltaub, UCLA vice chancellor for external affairs. “The success of this campaign is due largely to the diligent efforts of many volunteers, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who are committed to helping the campus shape its future.”

The $664 million total broke the previous record high of $644 million set in 2014-15. UCLA raised $557 million in 2013–14 and $507 million in 2012–13. Including a private phase that began in July 2012, the Centennial Campaign has now raised more than $2.7 billion — 65 percent of its goal of $4.2 billion.

The single largest donation of $100 million in 2015–16 came from the David Geffen Foundation to help UCLA establish a new secondary school, the Geffen Academy at UCLA, that will provide an innovative college preparatory education for Los Angeles-area students in grades 6 through 12. The donation provides immediate support for facility renovations, faculty and curriculum development, and other key strategic tasks needed to launch the school on the Westwood campus.

In all, donors from 50 states and 61 countries made 79,422 gifts to UCLA in the last fiscal year. More than 17,500 of these donors were giving to the university for the first time. Alumni donors represented 65 percent of all who donated.

These wide-ranging gifts, given with imagination and vision to achieve different purposes, illustrate the power of private philanthropy to inspire change:

  • Renowned physicist Mani Bhaumik, who was born into extreme poverty in a remote village in India, came to UCLA in 1959 “with $3 in my pocket” to continue his education on a Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship. His $11 million gift to the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences — the largest gift ever made to the division — will establish the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics.
  • UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture received a $20 million gift from prominent art dealer and influential contemporary art world figure Margo Leavin to rebuild and expand its aging graduate art studio facilities. The complex will be renamed the UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios. Hers is the largest single gift ever given by an alumna to the arts within the UC system.
  • With two long-serving deans stepping down, supporters of the UCLA School of Dentistry and the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science made significant gifts in their honor. To honor Vijay Dhir, former dean of the engineering school, a group of nearly 100 donors gave a total of $1 million to create the Vijay K. Dhir Chair in Engineering and Applied Science.
  • At the UCLA School of Dentistry, where Dr. No-Hee Park was the longest-serving dean, the Dr. No-Hee Park Awards for Excellence were established with more than $1 million in donations to honor the former dean’s commitment to student scholarship. During his 18-year tenure as dean, Park enjoyed the support of longtime UCLA donors, including alumni Ralph and Shirley Shapiro, whose extensive philanthropy can be felt across the breadth of the campus, from law to the arts to health and beyond.
  • The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA was established with a gift of $20 million from The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The new center at UCLA will partner  with other Parker Institute-funded collaborators at leading cancer programs across the nation on developing new therapies for metastatic disease.
  • The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science was the recipient of a $10 million gift from the Samueli Foundation, created by Susan and Henry Samueli. The donation to establish and endow 20 chairs is a matching gift and encourages others to contribute to advance excellence in teaching and research.
  • Philanthropists Wendy and Leonard Goldberg made a $10 million gift, most of which will support multidisciplinary research at UCLA on migraine, a debilitating neurological disorder that affects 36 million people in the U.S.
  • The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music received an $11.7 million gift from the estate of a former UCLA pre-med student with a fondness for classical music. The bequest from the David Dobrow Trust establishes an endowment that will help ensure the music school’s long-term financial security by providing nearly $500,000 per year in perpetuity.
  • Bernard Briskin, a UCLA graduate, and his wife, Judy, who also attended UCLA, made a generous donation to the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Among the benefits the gift provides is the establishment of the Judy and Bernard Briskin Marketing Specialization Program Fund to offer fellowships to students in marketing.   
  • UCLA Athletics received a $5 million commitment from the Annenberg Foundation that will be the lead gift toward establishing the Wallis Annenberg Stadium, the new home of UCLA men’s and women’s soccer as well as campus club sports programs.
  • In restructuring and expanding its membership program, the UCLA Alumni Association extended its strategic outreach and consequently offered many more opportunities for its members to become more involved, including contributing to the Centennial Campaign. In its first full fiscal year, the program brought in 3,141 gifts totaling $1.24 million; 60 percent of these gifts will support dozens of alumni scholarships.

In October, the university will celebrate the grand opening of the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center. The $100 million gift made previously by Meyer and Renee Luskin illustrates how transformative a single gift can be to the entire university. In addition to establishing endowments for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to support graduate students, faculty and emerging research areas, their gift presents the campus with a new space where thought leaders and innovators from all over the world will gather to exchange ideas, enhancing UCLA’s role as a catalyst for innovation.     

Over the past seven years, UCLA has ranked No. 1 on average in U.S. fundraising among public institutions, according to the Council for Aid to Education’s most current survey.

The Centennial Campaign for UCLA seeks to build on the university’s strengths and ensure its long-term excellence by continuing progress toward self-reliance — state support accounts for only about 7 percent of revenues — and increasing UCLA’s endowment. Among the campaign’s primary goals are increasing funding for undergraduate scholarships and graduate student fellowships, growing the number of endowed professorships and enhancing other forms of faculty support.

The Centennial Campaign executive committee is co-chaired by Anthony Pritzker and Garen Staglin. The campaign is being led by Turteltaub and associate vice chancellors for development Kathryn Carrico and Laura Parker.

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