UCLA alumna Christine Simmons, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Sparks basketball team, welcomed new African-American students to UCLA at the 10th annual Black Convocation and urged them to tap into opportunities afforded by their enrollment and serve interests beyond their own.
“I’m drawn to voices that speak for all of us,” says UCLA alumnus Juan Felipe Herrera, who was named U.S. Poet Laureate in June. To prepare for his year as the nation’s top poetry consultant — and the first Latino to hold the post — Herrera has been listening to as many people as he can.
Since the early 13th century, a slew of Williams, Richards, Johns and Roberts — plus a generous smattering of Georges, Jameses and Thomases — have served as vice chancellor of England’s Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Now comes the first woman to hold the post: Louise Richardson, who earned her master’s in political science at UCLA in 1980.
Juan Felipe Herrera, UCLA alumnus and recently retired UC Riverside professor whose poetry chronicled the bittersweet lives, travails and contributions of Mexican Americans, was announced today as the 21st U.S. poet laureate.
Alumni Meyer Luskin ’49 and his wife, Renee ’53, and Ralph Shapiro ’53, J.D. ’58 and his wife, Shirley ’59, have jointly established the Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of Social Sciences, one of the few divisional endowed chairs in the College of Letters and Science.
The honoree, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh, said, “That four such generous and loyal alumni as the Shapiros and the Luskins have chosen to honor me in this way is truly humbling. Their gift is especially meaningful because of the commitment it demonstrates to UCLA’s academic excellence now and long into the future. Great faculty are essential to that excellence and endowed chairs help us attract and sustain the finest.”
Endowed chairs continue to play an increasingly crucial role in the recruitment and retention of outstanding university faculty. When formally approved by the University of California Office of the President, the Waugh Chair will be awarded to a social sciences faculty member who will receive funds to support his or her research and teaching activities.
“The Luskins and the Shapiros have once again demonstrated their legendary generosity and unwavering support to UCLA,” said Alessandro Duranti, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences. “Named for a generous and visionary leader on this campus, the Waugh Chair will have a far-reaching impact, providing the much needed flexibility to address faculty support in a range of areas across the Division.”
Waugh first came to UCLA as a student, graduating summa cum laude in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in history. In 1975, after earning a Ph.D. from the University of London, he returned to UCLA to teach in the history department. He served as Dean of the Division of Social Sciences for 14 years, and was appointed Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost in 2008. He has received honors, fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Philosophical Society. He also received the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, the Harvey L. Eby Award for the Art of Teaching, the UC President’s Fellowship in the Humanities, and a UCLA Faculty Development Award.
Ralph Shapiro, chair of Avondale Investment Partners, said, “Scott Waugh embodies UCLA’s commitment to excellence and service. We are delighted to be able to recognize his many years of tireless dedication to the university that gave us both a great education and a head start in our professional lives.”
Meyer Luskin president, CEO and chairman of Scope Industries, added, “It gives me enormous pleasure to join forces with Ralph in establishing this chair in honor of such a deserving individual, whose leadership has helped maintain UCLA’s place among the greatest universities in the world.”
Ralph Shapiro earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1953 and his J.D. in 1958, both from UCLA. He and his wife, Shirley ’59 are the founders of the Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation. A prominent campus landmark, the Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Fountain at the top of Janss Steps was named in recognition of the couple’s longstanding commitment to the university.
Meyer Luskin credits a $30 scholarship with allowing him to continue his UCLA studies, which were interrupted by his military service in World War II. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1949, and his MBA from Stanford. Luskin and his wife, Renee ’53, have established several endowments at UCLA, one of which is the second largest gift ever received by the university. The Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center (due to open in 2016) are named in their honor.
A$5 million gift from Alan Leve, a UCLA alumnus and the founder and president of Culver City, California-based Ohmega Technologies, will establish several endowments at the UCLA College’s Center for Jewish Studies. Leve said he hopes the gift, which will benefit students, faculty and the community, will honor his family’s legacy of giving — one that started with his late grandmother, Hinda Schonfeld.
Before Dorothy “Dottie” Wellman ’50 passed away in 2013, she told her nephew, William Proebsting, that she did not want an obituary or service of remembrance. If she had allowed such a tribute, it surely would have highlighted her exceptional generosity in giving $2.2 million—during her lifetime and through her estate—to the Department of History on the campus she loved.
A well-known and beloved UCLA alumna, Dottie had begun pledging annual gifts toward the establishment of an endowed chair in the department, a testament to her abiding passion for Medieval History and the love of her life, her late husband Bob Wellman ’53.
After Dottie passed away in 2013, Proebsting, as executor of her estate, distributed the remaining assets in accordance with her living trust, establishing the Robert and Dorothy Wellman Chair in Medieval History and the Robert and Dorothy Wellman Graduate Fellowship in the UCLA Department of History.
“We are deeply grateful to Dottie Wellman for this visionary gift. The UCLA History Department has a storied tradition of great medievalists, and the Wellman Chair and Fellowship will allow us to continue to build on that foundation of excellence,” said David N. Myers, Professor and Chair of the History Department.
Dottie and Bob met as undergraduates at UCLA. Bob had contracted polio in his late teens and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. According to Proebsting, it was love at first sight, and they married in 1957.
“I always loved Dottie because she was such a character: funny and irreverent,” Proebsting said. And when he first met Bob at a family gathering, he recalled a “wonderful, warm, funny guy with a big personality who charmed the socks off us.”
After he graduated with a degree in sociology, Bob worked in the Office of the Chancellor from 1954 until his retirement in 1988. He was special assistant to former chancellors Franklin Murphy and Charles E. Young, and UCLA’s first compliance officer for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 504. He also served as treasurer, secretary-treasurer and president of the Men’s Faculty Club (later known as Collegium Bibendi).
Dottie was devoted to Bob and eventually became his full-time caregiver in the years leading up to his death in 1997 at age 70. In the 1950s and ’60s, she worked as a part-time researcher and editor for “The University Explorer,” an innovative, nationally broadcast radio program that explored UC-led research topics ranging from the atom bomb to narcotics addiction to the search for the biblical city of Gath.
“Dottie was an English major and a voracious reader,” Proebsting said. “She especially loved to read about the history of medieval England, a passion that continued right up to her death.”
Dottie audited many history courses while she and Bob were at UCLA, including numerous lecture courses taught by Scott Waugh, a history professor and now Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. She and Waugh struck up a friendship that continued even after she moved to Oregon to be near her family after Bob’s death.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Dottie wanted to give back to the campus that brought her and Bob so much joy,” Waugh said. “The Wellmans’ connection to UCLA was longstanding and deeply personal, so these generous endowments represent an enduring legacy that is more poignant than most.”
Of his aunt’s endowments to the history department, Proebsting, a retired Oregon State horticulture professor, said, “I’m really happy Dottie chose to do this because I know how much UCLA meant to her and Bob. It’s the perfect capstone for their lives.”
A $2.5 million gift from Tadashi Yanai, the chairman, president and CEO of global apparel retailer Fast Retailing and founder of Uniqlo, will help transform UCLA’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures into one of the world’s leading centers for the study of Japanese literature and culture.
New garden entrance, funded by previous La Kretz gift, to open June 2 at noon.
The $5 million gift will also provide for graduate student support.