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Donors Support UC San Diego COVID-19 Efforts

Leading research institution UC San Diego launches an emergency response fund to address evolving global pandemic situation


Leading research institution launches emergency response fund to address evolving pandemic situation

Posted on April 2, 2020

As anxiety and tension become daily emotions in the midst of dire news reports and a mandate to stay-at-home, La Jolla resident Dene Oliver says he is “…feeling sad, and yet hopeful and optimistic at the same time.” His hope and optimism are focused on the University of California San Diego, one of the nation’s leading research institutions. “What the university is doing is beyond comprehension,” he says. “We are not out there on the frontlines on a daily basis, but the people at UC San Diego are.”

Dene and Elizabeth Oliver

When the university launched its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund March 17, Dene and Elizabeth Oliver were the first major donors. They gave $100,000 to seed the fundraising effort that will allow UC San Diego to address the greatest needs in this evolving pandemic situation, and move forward with research and health care efforts to better understand and respond to COVID-19.

The fund will support the expansion of COVID-19 testing and diagnostics and help continue UC San Diego’s extensive research efforts, including a greater understanding of the virus and the disease as well as the development of a vaccine and clinical trials. Contributions to the fund will also provide financial assistance for displaced and impacted members of UC San Diego’s community, including support for students who need resources for basic needs, distance learning, and emergency funds.

“We are in the midst of a continually evolving public health crisis for our region, our nation, and the world,” says UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “UC San Diego has a long and deep experience in treating significant public health threats. We have some of the world’s best physicians and scientists, a world-class health system, and the expertise and resources to make a difference. Many have asked how they can help with our efforts in this battle. To fortify our work and ensure an agile response, we established the COVID-19 fund.”

Khosla adds “This is a moment where individual actions can have as much impact as institutional efforts.”

The Olivers have been involved with UC San Diego since 2007, when they established an endowed faculty chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Science at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They have given to a variety of campus initiatives, from supporting students studying real estate to helping families in the UC San Diego health care system. Elizabeth serves as a member of the Scripps Oceanography Directors Council. In 2019, Dene was elected to the UC San Diego Foundation Board of Trustees. Co-founder of the Oliver McMillan real estate development company, he is currently chief vision officer at Brookfield Properties.

Support for the UC San Diego COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and related COVID-19 research and health care efforts totals nearly $775,000 from more than 250 gifts.

Recent philanthropic gifts include $400,000 from anonymous donors who are directing their support to focus on pediatric care, and the research led by Lars Bode at the UC San Diego Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence to study COVID-19 breastfeeding transmission and breast milk immunity. The donors want “to see this community unite and philanthropically support those that need it most as this disease evolves.”

San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., which develops fields systems, platforms and products for national security and communications needs, contributed $100,000 to help fund a ventilator innovation project overseen by the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “We are pleased to provide greatly needed charitable support to UC San Diego at this unprecedented time in history,” says Kratos CEO Eric M. DeMarco.

In addition, there are funds already in place that support UC San Diego faculty, researchers, and students on a regular basis and these are available to leverage now during this crisis.

“We will all get through this,” says Dene. “The campus has an incredible vision we are privileged to support.”

How you can help

Please consider a gift of any size to the UC San Diego COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Together, we can play an important role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and helping those affected by it. Visit campaign.ucsd.edu/impact/coronavirus to learn more.

In addition to cash donations, you can also help UC San Diego Health by donating protective equipment (PPE) and supplies. Learn more at health.ucsd.edu/coronavirus/Pages/donate.aspx.


The Olivers’: Photo Provided by Dene Oliver
All other photography by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications


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