Arthur Wang’s suggestion in his May 19 column that David Geffen’s gifts to UCLA will not help elevate our institution in any meaningful way is baffling, ill-informed and inaccurate.
While state budget cuts have left University of California with fewer resources than ever to preserve academic quality and students facing arguably more debt than ever, Geffen’s generosity in fact goes right to the heart of these problems. His last $100 million gift to the medical school that rightly bears his name will cover the entire cost for four years of education to hundreds of students there – a course of study where the average debt after graduating is $170,000.
Geffen’s separate $100 million gift for a secondary school on campus allows UCLA, at a time when private institutions with deeper pockets are attempting to poach top faculty, an important and innovative advantage few other universities can offer: access to a top-quality education for their children right where they work. Not to mention, many of the slots at the new school will also be offered to university staff and a diverse community across Los Angeles with no affiliation.
Wang questions Geffen’s record of public service, but if providing access, opportunities and a top-quality public education to students at UCLA isn’t public service, I don’t know what is. So why shouldn’t we seek ways to honor him? Contrary to what Wang says, the UCLA development staff who work on such projects are not supported by any tuition or state funds. David Geffen is a true champion of UCLA who shares our goals and vision. I am honored to call him a partner and friend in our shared mission of keeping UCLA great and accessible to all.
Gene D. Block,