Philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, have made the most significant gift to the University of California, Merced, in the 16-year history of the university.
Scott announced the $20 million gift in a blog post June 15. In all, the couple donated $2.74 billion to 286 organizations, including nonprofits and groups working to combat racial discrimination. UC Merced is the only University of California campus to receive a gift in the couple’s generous giving history.
“Any words of thanks from us would be utterly inadequate to express our full gratitude, humility and sense of responsibility to serve as careful stewards of this gift. We pledge to continue to do the work that made UC Merced deserving of this magnificent investment in our students, faculty and staff,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said.
“This is a record-breaking year in so many ways. Despite the pandemic, we have the largest enrollment in history, largest number of applications, the integration of the magnificent Project 2020 facilities, soon a new comprehensive strategic plan — and, with this tremendous gift, our largest fundraising year ever,” Muñoz said. “And this gift and the affirmation it provides will further support our continued commitment to inclusive excellence and determined path toward R1. It is indeed a special time to be a part of the proud Bobcat community.”
Scott assembled a group of advisors to help her identify and assess various organizations in underserved areas significantly impacting positive social change, equity, leaders of color and economic mobility.
“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity. These organizations, which are themselves historically underfunded, also promoted and facilitated service, which in turn inspires more people to serve,” Scott wrote.
Scott, who divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, has given away $8 billion. She is reportedly worth nearly $60 billion.
“This is an incredible gift that will make a significant impact. We are forever grateful to Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett for their generosity,” said Vice Chancellor and Chief External Relations. Officer E. Edward Klotzbier.
“The amount of increased philanthropic support we are receiving is the result of being able to tell amazing stories from all across our campus — the awe-inspiring work of faculty, staff and of course our students,” Klotzbier said.