Former Student Activist Couple Gives UCLA $10 Million for Ethnic Studies Centers
Helen and Morgan Chu were part of a multiracial coalition of student leaders whose activism led to the creation of UCLA’s four ethnic studies centers in 1969.
Helen and Morgan Chu pledged $10 million to the University of California at Los Angeles Institute for American Cultures to endow an academic chair at the Asian American Studies Center and directors’ chairs at the American Indian Studies Center, the Chicano Studies Research Center, at the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.
Plus, Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer gave USC $59 million to establish the Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service, and Colby College landed $50 million from Paula and Peter Lunder to back efforts to provide more financial aid to students from underserved backgrounds.
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A roundup of notable gifts compiled by the Chronicle:
University of California at Los Angeles Institute of American Cultures
Helen and Morgan Chu pledged $10 million to endow an academic chair at the Asian American Studies Center and directors’ chairs at the American Indian Studies Center, the Chicano Studies Research Center, and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. Some of the donation will also support research projects and programs within the institute.
Morgan Chu is a trial lawyer who served as the co-managing partner of the Los Angeles law firm Irell & Manella from 1997 to 2003 and currently serves as chairman of the firm’s litigation practice group. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from UCLA before earning a master’s degree from Yale University and then a law degree from Harvard Law School. Helen Chu earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and went on to a long career as a public-school teacher.
The couple met as students at UCLA in the late 1960s and were part of a multiracial coalition of student leaders whose activism led to the creation of UCLA’s four ethnic studies centers in 1969 and established the university as a pioneer in the field. The couple have supported the university with previous gifts to establish the Helen and Morgan Chu Endowed Chair in Asian American Studies, the Helen and Morgan Chu Endowed Director’s Chair of the Asian American Studies Center, and the Morgan and Helen Chu Scholarship Fund for undergraduates.
University of Southern California
Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer gave $59 million to establish the Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service at the university’s Washington campus.
The mission of the new institute is to produce research that informs policymaking aimed at addressing national and global challenges and to provide students with programs that teach them how to be responsible and involved citizens of functioning democracy.
Leonard Schaeffer, a longtime member of the USC Board of Trustees and the Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair and Professor at the university’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, was the founding chairman and CEO of WellPoint, a health benefits company, and served as the administrator of the federal Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) earlier in his career.
Paula and Peter Lunder pledged $50 million through their Lunder Foundation to endow and expand the college’s financial-aid programs so that Colby can offer more students from underserved backgrounds enough financial aid to graduate from college without student-loan debt. Peter Lunder is the former president of the Dexter Shoe Company, a Maine shoe manufacturer that was sold to Berkshire Hathaway for nearly $9 billion in 1993. He graduated from Colby in 1956.
Southern Illinois University Foundation
Jayne and John Simmons gave $10 million to support the university’s law school, which will be renamed the Simmons Law School. John Simmons grew up in southern Illinois and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1991.
He served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer and then earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University. He later founded Simmons Hanly Conroy, a personal-injury law firm that is today known for representing people affected by mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.
John Simmons has been closely involved with his alma mater as a donor and trustee for years, and his firm has hired a number of its graduates as employees and interns. Together, the Simmonses founded AltonWorks, a redevelopment company focused on revitalizing historic downtown Alton, John’s home town.
Duke University School of Nursing
Bettye Martin Musham pledged $8 million to support wellness and prevention programs and efforts to reduce health inequities and to develop community-focused educational programs. She is directing $5 million to endow the William and Bettye Martin Musham Professorship and $3 million to endow the William and Bettye Martin Musham Fund.
Musham had a varied career. After graduating from the nursing school in 1954, she studied midwifery for a year at Hammersmith Hospital, in London, and then returned to the United States and worked as an ob-gyn nurse in New York. She eventually left nursing and became a stand-up comic and a representative for a photographer, and worked in the advertising industry. She co-founded Gear Holdings, a branding, design, marketing, and communications firm in New York and later became the first woman executive at Louis Vuitton North America in the 1970s.
To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated regularly.