A visionary gift
“Getting a gift like that from current students just blew me away.”
When UC Berkeley optometry students discovered they were sitting on a whopper of a nest egg, they hatched a plan to put the money to work.
The result? A $250,000 gift, made in 2010 to the School of Optometry, was immediately doubled by the Chancellor’s Challenge for Student Support. The UC Optometric Student Association (UCOSA) donation still holds the record as the biggest-ever contribution by current students to the Berkeley campus.
For decades, the UCOSA had been tucking away proceeds from student dues and sales of caps, clothing, and a popular study guide. Britta Hansen O.D. '11, former president of UCOSA, explains, “We wanted … it to go to the greater good of the university rather than sitting in our account.”
And indeed it has. In just three years, the $500,000 endowment has provided nearly 400 optometry students with fellowship support — easing the burden of rising tuition costs and contributing greatly to the spirit of philanthropy at the school.
“Getting a gift like that from current students just blew me away,” says Dennis Levi, the dean at the time, “but it exemplifies the school’s big-heartedness.”
The big-heartedness has abounded: The School of Optometry now has 69 endowments for student support, 61 of which were established during The Campaign for Berkeley.