More gifts, grants for UC Merced

Sun-Star staff reportsSeptember 19, 2013 

UC Merced officials announced Thursday that the university had recorded $5.04million in private gift and grant support from July 1, 2012, to June 30 this year – an increase of 26percent over the last fiscal year’s total of $3.98million.

The percentage increase in private funding was higher than the national average and exceeded the division’s goal of $5million, according to a UC Merced news release.

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said an immense amount of work went into tightening up the university’s fundraising efforts, in addition to looking at every opportunity to collaborate. “This led to a substantial increase over last year,” Leland said in the release. “Despite the fact that it was a transitional year with a new vice chancellor on board, the Development and Alumni Relations team and the campus were able to really focus efforts on our newly approved fundraiser initiatives.”

Those initiatives, which were vetted with the campus’s academic leadership and will remain for five years, include increasing fellowships for graduate students, enhancing research culture and infrastructure, recruiting distinguished faculty, providing scholarships for undergraduate students and building upon the medical education initiative, the release said.

In 2012-13, support from first-time donors to UC Merced increased 38percent over 2011-12. Across the nation, college and university fundraisers estimated that giving grew 7.1 percent for the 2013 fiscal year, according to survey results released in the most recent Council for Advancement and Support of Education Fundraising Index.

The major gifts include a $1million contribution from Margo Souza to establish the Margo F. Souza Leadership Center — a multifaceted leadership program — housed in UC Merced’s Office of Student Life. The leadership center will encompass a wide range of campus leadership initiatives, including the Margo Souza Entrepreneur-in-Training Track, and the Mentorship and Celebration Lunch.

In addition, Joel and Elizabeth Wallace gave the campus $575,000 from the proceeds of a property sale to establish the Wallace-Dutra Amphitheater and the Yablokoff-Wallace Health Science Research Endowment, which will support the campus’s Community Research, Innovations and Solutions for the Health of the San Joaquin Valley Network.

The university received a $500,000 donation from San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation to support up to 10 Osher Scholars annually. The scholarship will benefit incoming transfer students who have demonstrated a financial need and shown academic promise in community college, the release said.

This year’s gifts bring UC Merced’s total to more than $87.5 million since it began accepting gifts in 1998. Additionally, as of July 31 the university’s endowment fund has reached $30million.

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