Businessman Meyer Luskin has donated $100 million to the University of California-Los Angeles, the second largest gift in UCLA history. UCLA says the donation will be split equally between the UCLA School of Public Affairs and a planned residential conference center.
"I live and work in the region and wanted to give back in a creative and unique way," said Luskin.
Luskin graduated from UCLA in 1949 with a degree in economics and is now president, CEO and chairman of Scope Industries, a company that manufactures animal-feed product.
"I have the material things I need," said Luskin. Luskin said he thought this investment would do more for his grandchildren than giving them the money. "I'm making an investment in what I think is import for society, the future, a world that my grandchildren will live in. I'm doing a lot more for them trying to make society better than giving them an extra few bucks, which won't really mean that much."
"The Luskins' generosity will enable us to expand a regional and national debate on some of the most challenging questions of our time," said Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., dean of the School of Public Affairs. "How do we design modern cities that are livable and sustainable? How do we assimilate immigrants while securing our borders? How do we move toward a more just and equitable society?"
Gilliam says the majority of the $50 million devoted to the School of Public Affairs will be used to establish endowments, with priority areas including graduate student fellowships, faculty professorships and new programs in urban studies and social justice.
The new conference center will replace the existing 50-year-old faculty center. Construction on the new center is scheduled to begin in spring 2012 if it's approved by the University of California Board of Regents. A portion of the conference center funds – $10 million – will be put into an endowment to fund conferences that have difficulty securing funding.
The Luskins have donated to the school in the past, funding undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, a children's clinic, the School for Public Affairs' Luskin Center for Innovation and more.
Luskin said that he used a scholarship to continue his studies at UCLA – a $30 scholarship that let him return to school after serving in World War II.
"UCLA is among the greatest universities in the world, and it gave me my start," Luskin said. "It's essential that I give back so that others can enjoy the same benefits."
The school and residential conference center will both be named after Luskin and his wife, with a naming ceremony for the School of Public Affairs scheduled for March 18.