Passion for Berkeley fuels far-reaching gifts

Berkeley can take such a deep hold of people’s hearts that some donors choose to remember it in their wills or trusts with a planned gift — leaving a legacy with long-term benefits for the students and faculty of tomorrow. These stories showcase the largest gifts in 2014 from three individuals whose generosity extends far beyond the years they were connected to the Cal community.

Photo of a young woman holding a colorfully dressed baby in her lap, both looking down

Photo: Keegan Houser

A deeper commitment to maternal and child health

Helen Wallace, a faculty member in the School of Public Health for 20 years, dedicated her career to improving the lives of women and children. A world-renowned teacher and advocate, she left a gift valued at more than $13 million to launch the Wallace Maternal and Child Health Center, which will focus on innovative, evidence-based research and educating students primarily from the western United States through scholarships and fellowships. It will also create a new endowed faculty chair.

By building partnerships at every level of research, the Wallace Center will complement the school’s existing maternal and child health (MCH) program — one of the nation’s preeminent MCH leadership training programs — and the Bixby Center for Population, Health & Sustainability.

Wallace, who died in 2013 at age 99, mentored generations of students as a professor and chair of the school’s MCH program from 1962 to 1980. She laid important groundwork in the field by fostering collaboration across disciplines at a time when it was rare to do so, and she implemented these practices in the school, research partnerships, and in her writing.

“She was well known for mentoring her students and ensuring that what they learned on campus was put to use to benefit society,” says Professor Sylvia Guendelman, chair of Berkeley’s MCH program. “She inspired her students to be leaders, to make a positive difference in the world.”

Black-and-white photo of eight people in swimsuits standing on two large rocks in a lake in front of tall trees with mountains in the distance

Forestry Camp, 1933, a decade before John Gross ’47 attended. Courtesy of the Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library.

Supporting an affinity for nature

John Gross ’47, who majored in forestry at the College of Natural Resources (CNR), was a true original: He drove a run-down truck for years, raced horses, and was fiercely engaged in the politics of California and nature. As he considered his legacy, he looked at the impact of CNR’s work and decided it felt like home.

Gross, who was a builder and developer, made a variety of planned gifts that totaled more than $15 million — making him the largest individual donor in CNR’s history. But his deep care for public education and for Berkeley did not stop there. In all, he gave nearly $21.8 million to a variety of units and interests on campus, including an endowed chair in political science in the College of Letters & Science. He died in 2013 at age 93.

“John felt the value of public universities to the state was enormous — in scientific research, job creation, innovation, technology, business, and health,” says Kathryn Moriarty Baldwin, CNR’s assistant dean of development and public information. “He believed that… UC was something rare and wonderful that was worthy of investment.”

Close-up of a row of students highlighting pages in books, one woman's face particularly visible in profile

Photo: Kirstie Tweed

Doubling the impact of scholarships

When Ruth (Janke) Johnson ’38, C.Mult. ’39 learned of the mounting difficulty many students have in paying for their education, she took action. Johnson made a gift in her trust that enables Berkeley to match 50 new scholarship funds of $100,000 each — 10 of which have already been fulfilled. When coupled with dollar-for- dollar funding from donors, the Ruth Johnson Undergraduate Scholarship Match Program will create more than $10 million in new endowed scholarship funding.

There is a story behind every scholarship — and every student whose life is changed by a Berkeley education. For example, Eugene Jarvis ’73 thought he wanted to become a biochemist, but realized he preferred building new universes to studying one in which the laws of nature had already been determined. Thus began a successful career in game design and programming — and the inspiration to help others find their true path. He recently took advantage of the Johnson Match to establish the Eugene Jarvis Media Innovation Scholarship, which will support students working in new media or design innovation fields.

An honors student at Berkeley, Johnson taught French and Spanish in public high schools for 30 years. She and her husband Milton, a U.S. Army veteran, lived in several places in the United States and Japan. Acknowledging Berkeley’s significance in her life, Johnson’s generous gift enables donors to realize their vision of starting a scholarship in an academic area they care about — while inspiring new stories among talented students with the greatest need.

Planned gifts provide creative, flexible strategies for pursuing your financial and charitable goals while supporting work at Berkeley that is meaningful to you. To speak with a gift planning expert, call 1.800.200.0575, email, or visit

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