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New endowment provides additional support for study abroad opportunities

March 21, 2013

Portrait of Ann E. Pitzer and UC Davis Chancellor LInda P.B. Katehi

Alumna Ann E. Pitzer, left, and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi are both champions of international study. Pitzer recently gave $1 million to the UC Davis Education Abroad Center for student scholarships. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

Generations of UC Davis students will have more opportunity to study abroad as part of their UC Davis education, thanks to a recent $1 million gift from Ann E. Pitzer, a UC Davis alumna and current member of the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees.

Pitzer, a La Jolla, Calif., resident, made the gift to the UC Davis Education Abroad Center so that more UC Davis students will have the opportunity to add a global perspective to their academic careers without having to worry about the financial barriers that prevent many students from participating in study abroad programs.

“I think that students can be ambassadors for the state and the country and the campus. This endowment will provide an enriching opportunity for their lives,” Pitzer said. “UC Davis made a tremendous change for the positive in my life, and I like to think that I have an opportunity to help students of today have a similar experience.”

Access to global education is one of the key components of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s Vision of Excellence and 2020 Initiative for the university. Currently, only 17 to 18 percent of each graduating undergraduate class will have studied abroad at some time during their academic career.

“Financial resources are the No. 1 barrier to students taking advantage of UC Davis’ study abroad program,” said Katehi. “The Ann E. Pitzer Study Abroad Endowment will help provide students with the financial resources to expand their academic experience on a global scale.”

Pitzer’s gift establishes an endowed award in the UC Davis Education Abroad Center within the University Outreach and International Programs office, which will create scholarships that will help between 20 and 40 students annually who otherwise might not have the financial support to participate in study abroad programs. Her gift will be matched on a one-to-one ratio, up to a maximum gift of $25,000, by the UC Davis Foundation Matching Fund for Student Support — a matching fundraising initiative launched in December 2012 to inspire donors to create endowed student scholarships, fellowships and awards.

The Pitzer endowment is good news to UC Davis students like Bryan Steele, an international relations major who studied abroad in Barcelona in fall 2012, and is expected to graduate this year.

“Since I am an international relations major, study abroad wasn’t just a highlight of my collegiate experience, but a capstone on the hundreds of articles, books and essays that I read while at UC Davis,” he said. Steele, a scholarship and financial aid recipient, said that without financial support, “I might not have been able to participate in the pre-Intensive Language Program, where I had some of my most memorable experiences from the entire year.”

In addition to the endowment, $10,000 of Pitzer’s gift will go to an immediate use fund so that scholarships can start being awarded to UC Davis students during the 2013-2014 academic year.

The UC Davis Education Abroad Center offers more than 200 program options in 50 countries around the world. Approximately 1,400 students participate in Education Abroad Center programs each year; 1,100 are UC Davis students and more than 250 students participate from other UC campuses. Financial aid applies to all programs offered through the Education Abroad Center.

Pitzer also established a challenge as part of her gift in hopes of inspiring additional donors. To date, nearly $200,000 has been raised in matching funds from UC Davis alumni, faculty, staff and parents, including:

  • Ruth Asmundson, Ph.D. ’72 and family, have given $25,000 to the endowment. Through the UC Davis Foundation’s matching fund initiative, their donation will be matched at $25,000, for a total of $50,000 donated to the endowment. Several UC Davis alumni family members, including Asmundson’s daughters, have also been inspired to give to the endowment.
  • Masoud and Nahid Sobhani, who currently live in Japan, are parents of a UC Davis student. Their gift to the endowment is $25,000.
  • Joseph Silva, dean emeritus of the UC Davis School of Medicine, has pledged $25,000 to the endowment and believes that education abroad is an important part of a student’s academic experience: “It’s important to fund study abroad programs because our students serve as ambassadors of the university and bring a new perspective to their program.”

Pitzer’s grandfather was Russell K. Pitzer — a California citrus grower and Pomona Valley philanthropist who founded Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., in 1963. Her father was Kenneth S. Pitzer, a renowned chemistry professor at UC Berkeley who was called “one of the most influential physical chemists of his era” by the American Philosophical Society, a recipient of the National Medal of Science award and a former president of Rice and Stanford universities.

Pitzer graduated from UC Davis in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics. After obtaining a master’s degree in textiles from UC Berkeley, she pursued a career in computer programming. Along with fellow UC Davis classmates, she established the Class of ’58 Scholarship, an endowed fund supported through gifts from the class of 1958, as well as friends of the class. She is a 2013 recipient of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association's Aggie Service Award, which honors a UC Davis graduate who has demonstrated exemplary Aggie pride and dedication to the university through personal commitment of time and energy, volunteerism, and leadership.

Anyone who is inspired to meet the Ann E. Pitzer Study Abroad Endowment Challenge is invited to contact Robert Kerr at rakerr@ucdavis.edu or donate online.

The Ann E. Pitzer Study Abroad Endowment is part of The Campaign for UC Davis, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign that seeks to raise $1 billion from 100,000 donors. 

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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