Celebration of Philanthropic Leaders 2017 Thank You

Event Celebrates Generosity of Donors

Mike Gallo, Dr. Krishna and Sumana Thondapu and Chancellor Dorothy Leland
Mike Gallo, Dr. Krishna and Sumana Thondapu
and Chancellor Dorothy Leland

Campus friends and supporters were recognized for their charitable spirit at UC Merced’s third annual Celebration of Philanthropic Leaders event, held on campus March 25.

During a reception on the fourth floor of the east wing of the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, guests witnessed the progress taking place as part of the Merced 2020 Project.

“This young campus has thrived — not just survived — during some very difficult times, and we couldn’t have done it without your support,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “I am here to celebrate with you some of the accomplishments you’ve made possible.”

Benefactors who were honored for their lifetime generosity to UC Merced included:

  • UC Merced Foundation Trustee Dr. Krishna Thondapu and the Thondapu family have supported UC Merced since its earliest days. The family established the Thondapu Family Endowed Chair in Bioengineering about 15 years ago. This gift supports a critical research area on campus and inspired additional support from other major donors even before the campus opened its doors.
  • Westamerica Bank was recognized for its contributions to establish an endowed chair in economics. The chair was one of the first established at UC Merced and has allowed distinguished faculty members the financial ability to excel in their scholarly field. Regional Vice President and Regional Marketing Manager Robert Baker and Assistant Vice President and Business Banking Officer Dauna Goza accepted on behalf of Westamerica.
  • HP Inc. was honored as one of the campus’s first corporate sponsors. The organization has supported the campus since before it opened and continues to bolster campus initiatives including the Graduate Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity and the National Science Foundation Initiative. Chief Diversity Officer for HP Inc. Lesley Slaton Brown accepted the award.

Leland also highlighted Giving Tuesday, a 24-hour fundraising effort that brought in more than $700,000, surpassing the $500,000 goal. Thirteen undergraduate scholarships and one graduate fellowship were supported through the initiative, now in its third year. The number of individual gifts doubled over the previous year and several donors gave multiple times.

“I am very proud of that fact that many of you in this room, despite the fact that you had stepped up in other ways, helped us with our Giving Tuesday campaign,” Leland said. “Our alums and our students also stepped up in a big way.”

She referred to the extraordinary generosity of alumni such as management and business economics major Christopher Bernal, the first student to establish an endowed scholarship to support other students, and Keith Ellis, ’12, Brandon Ruscoe, ’09, Chris Abrescy, ’09, and Daniel Lobato, ’13, who established endowed scholarships during Giving Tuesday.

A highlight of the evening was a tribute to longtime supporter and enthusiastic friend of the campus Elizabeth Wallace, who died in October.

The Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center, Elizabeth’s Garden and the Wallace-Dutra Amphitheater all bear the Wallace name and have played significant roles in building a sense of community.

“Elizabeth Wallace was one of UC Merced’s greatest champions,” Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations Kyle Hoffman said. “Her involvement with our campus from the very beginning has made UC Merced a greater place for all.”

Wallace’s husband Bud, daughter Lillian, son-in-law Mark, and granddaughter Allison attended the event.

At last year’s event, the campus unveiled its official alma mater, “My Merced,” written by award-winning composer Jimmy Dunne. To carry on the tradition this year, UC Merced alumna Brooklyn Edwards, ’09, performed the song for guests.


Thank You To All of Our Philanthropic Leaders

  • LAUREATES | Five Million +

    LAUREATES | Five Million +

    The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
    E. & J. Gallo Winery
    UnitedHealth Group
  • VISIONARIES | One Million +

    VISIONARIES | One Million +

    AT&T Foundation

    The Bank of America Charitable Foundation

    Dr. E.W. & Dorothy Bizzini
    Calvin E. Bright | Bright Family Foundation

    Foster Poultry Farms

    Hanimireddy Lakireddy Family Foundation
    Hellman Fellows Fund

    Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation

    Dr. Madhu Kris and Dr. Vijaya Tangella

  • VISIONARIES | One Million +

    VISIONARIES | One Million +

    Pacific Gas and Electric Company

    Peter Gallo Memorial Foundation

    Dr. Rajender and H. Jhansi Reddy

    Fred and Mitzie Ruiz

    W. M. Keck Foundation

    Joel and Elizabeth Wallace
    Wells Fargo

    The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

    The Wonderful Company

  • CHAMPIONS | Five Hundred Thousand +

    CHAMPIONS | Five Hundred Thousand +

    The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

    The Bernard Osher Foundation

    Carlston A. Cunningham Testamentary Trust
    Walter and Isabel Coats

    Tony Coelho

    Ray and Joan Dezember
    Kenneth J. Elia and Family & Richard S. Elia and Family

    Ted and Jan Falasco

    Reno Ferrero and Family
  • CHAMPIONS | Five Hundred Thousand +

    CHAMPIONS | Five Hundred Thousand +

    Greg and Catherine Hostetler

    Dr. Art Kamangar

    Farvardin Fathi Kamangar
    Ed and Jeanne Kashian

    Leo and Dottie Kolligian

    Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation
    The McClatchy Company

    John W. Myers, Flying M Ranches

    Roderic and Catherine Park
  • CHAMPIONS | Five Hundred Thousand +

    CHAMPIONS | Five Hundred Thousand +

    Dr. Atul Roy Family

    Southern California Edison
    Margo F. Souza

    Sherrie Spendlove
    Dr. Krishna Thondapu Family

    Westamerica Bank