Cal State University Fullerton received the largest donation in its history — $40 million — based on its commitment to educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.
The gift was given by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott — the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — and her new husband, Dan Jewett.
The allocation of the gift will be guided by CSUF’s strategic plan and core missions of student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; and faculty research, support and retention.
The university also will consider using some of the funds for infrastructure improvements, matching fund projects with its eight colleges and enhancing community partnerships, according to a CSUF press release issued June 15.
And, a large portion of the gift will be placed in CSUF’s endowment, where it will continue to generate funds to benefit future students.
Scott has said that her life journey has included “two assets” that she uses to help others: the wealth delivered to her by an “imbalanced” social system and “a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions.”
As a result, many of Scott’s gifts help historically-marginalized people by supporting groups that focus on racial, gender and social justice.
“It is indeed an honor to have received such an incredible philanthropic investment,” Greg Saks, VP for university advancement, said in the release. “When you consider that Scott works with the most sophisticated advisers available on the planet and, based on their research, they identified the unique and special transformational social change that happens at Cal State Fullerton, it is a ringing endorsement to the investment-worthiness of our university.”
Scott does not have a foundation of her own, according to this NY Times article. That, reportedly, would necessitate detailed public filings and a potentially large staff. Instead, several times over the past year, she’s penned a blog post on the website Medium, shared her thoughts on philanthropy and the causes she supports, and announced that she had given away $1 billion or more.
One of those recent posts included the mention of CSUF. And Scott’s belief that “higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity.”
CSUF is the largest university in the Cal State University system and the only campus in OC. It offers more than 100 degree programs and has Division 1 athletics.
It supports first-generation and underrepresented students, as well as preparing all students to become leaders in the global marketplace.
It’s also in the midst of a five-year, $200-million comprehensive fundraising initiative, which prioritizes investments in academic innovation, student empowerment, campus transformation and community enrichment.