Fall was a busy season of celebration at UCR, with the annual Chancellor’s Dinner in October and Homecoming activities in November.
More than 250 people turned out for the Chancellor’s Dinner on Oct. 17, to build scholarship opportunities for students and recognize distinguished alumni and supporters of the campus and community.
Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox presented the UCR Medallion to longtime community philanthropist and arts benefactor Henry W. Coil Jr., who bequeathed $900,000 to UCR’s Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts in 2012, one of the largest gifts UCR has received to support arts programs.
“Henry is one of those rare individuals who brings light to a room, but over his career has brought light to the entire Inland Empire,” Wilcox said about Coil, past president of Tilden-Coil Constructors Inc. and a founding director of UCR’s California Museum of Photography.
During the presentation, Wilcox also made the first public introduction of Coil and his wife, Linda, since the two were married just a few hours earlier that day.
UCR also presented the recipients of its 2015 Alumni Awards of Distinction. The Alumni Association administers the program, now in its 29th year.
• Byron Pollitt Jr. ’73, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. After a degree in business economics at UCR, Pollitt went on to Harvard Business School for his master of business administration. He then took senior positions at several large firms, including The Walt Disney Co. and Visa, where he has been the chief financial officer since 2007 and oversaw the merger of six companies into Visa Inc., the largest IPO in the history of the United States.
As a philanthropist, Pollitt has been a strong supporter of UCR and has focused on helping people in crisis through the American Red Cross. “He is a tremendous reflection of what the school offers its students and how you can apply what is offered to you, as a student at UCR, to your life,” said UCR Foundation Trustee Susan Atherton, ’77.
• Mary Figueroa ’79, received the Alumni Service Award. Figueroa was raised by a single mom, Cruz Moreno, in Riverside’s Eastside, and was the first in her neighborhood to attend a four-year university. She says the people who supported her quest for a degree in Chicano studies and political science helped fuel her lifelong commitment to helping others: as a counselor for the California Department of Corrections, as a longtime member of the Riverside Community College Board of Trustees and as a board member for many other community organizations.
“For over 35 years, Mary Figueroa has served as an irreplaceable leader in our region,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) said, when he invited Figueroa to be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address in 2013.
• Dr. Michael N. Nduati ’01, received the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. Nduati, a native of the Inland Empire, earned his biomedical sciences degree from UCR, and is now associate dean for clinical affairs at UCR’s School of Medicine. He achieved his medical degree through the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences, the precursor to the SOM, and also completed an M.B.A. at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in the joint M.D.-M.B.A. program.
He returned to the Inland Empire to do his residency in family medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center and then completed a master’s degree in public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Since joining the SOM faculty in 2012, he’s recruited 17 clinical sites in Riverside and San Bernardino counties for medical students to work with physician mentors and helped start the UCR Health Hospitalist Service at Riverside Community Hospital.
“I’m an Inland Empire product and I love my community,” Nduati said in his tribute video. “I wanted to give back to this community and I’m very proud to be part of this medical school.”
Top photo: Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox (from left); UCR Alumni Association President Daniel Kim; Alumni Service awardee Mary Figueroa; Outstanding Young Alumnus awardee Dr. Michael Nduati; Distinguished Alumnus awardee Byron Pollitt Jr. and Barbara Kerr of the UCR Alumni Association Board of Directors.