UCSD fund gets major gift; Jacobs, Foster kick start campaign to battle rising fees

By Jonathan Horn


As the cost of a University of California education rises, three local philanthropists are fighting the impacts of the recession with major donations to UCSD’s scholarship fund.

La Jollans Irwin Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm, his wife Joan and Rancho Santa Fe resident Pauline Foster made a total contribution of $3.9 million to begin the “Invent the Future” campaign. The Jacobs’ donation of $1.4 million will fund scholarships and fellowships for the Jacobs School of Engineering, while Foster’s $2.5 million will go to MBA student fellowships in the Rady School of Management.

The goal for the program is to raise $50 million in three years.

“Probably the most important thing you can do is to give a gift of support to a student because fees are being raised so much right now,” said Foster, a business leader and philanthropist. “We have a large populace that needs education, and they will make this city grow and prosper.”

A California resident now pays more than $8,800 in fees to attend UCSD. In 2005, in-state tuition was just less than $6,700. The total estimated tuition plus room and board for a current student is nearly $25,000, up from about $21,000 four years ago. The University of California currently proposes a 30 percent increase on top of that.

Staying focused

“As UCSD continues to struggle with the global recession and severe state budge cuts, we must maintain our primary focus — educating the best and brightest students to become tomorrow’s innovative leaders and problem solvers,” UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox stated in a press release. “The opportunity to support an exceptional student is one of the most effective ways to nurture and support our next generation of leaders.”

Nearly 65 percent of the undergraduate student body receives financial aid. UCSD also awards $3 million in annual scholarships, but that pales in comparison to the $19 million offered by UC Berkeley.

Limiting factors

“It’s obviously very critical that in the particular areas of math, science and engineering technology we do have more students in school,” said Irwin Jacobs, a former UCSD professor and for whom the Jacobs School of Engineering is named. “Many of course are limited by financial needs and so again that’s the reason for wanting to provide that help. I myself did have scholarship help when I was in college and had fellowship help when I went through graduate school.”

UCSD has an enrollment of roughly 28,000 students, including 5,000 post-graduates. U.S. News and World Report ranked it the 35th best college in the country, a rise Foster said she has witnessed first hand.

“I was around at the time the school was launched,” she said of the university that was established in 1959. “I’ve watched it grow for the last 50 years and I don’t want to see anything happen to it. I was born and raised here and before the university this was not much of a city.”