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Meet Our Supporters

Consistently ranked among the nation’s top ten public schools, UC San Diego draws distinguished faculty, researchers, and scholars from around the world. To fortify that level of excellence, we rely on the visionary leadership and profound generosity of our Chancellor’s Associates. Learn more about what motivates our exceptional donors.


Our Current Featured Donor 

Nirvana Navarro ’17 

Nirvana Navarro PhotoGiving back as a CASP GOLD Alumna

Chancellor’s Associates Scholar alumna Nirvana Navarro ’17 is the first graduate of the last decade to take part in our Chancellor’s Associates GOLD Challenge. Nirvana is a Triton through and through: After receiving her bachelor’s degree in international business, she joined UC San Diego as a financial assistant in what was then known as the Student Retention and Success Business Office. Since then, Nirvana’s career has grown — she received a promotion and is now a financial analyst for student retention and success within the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Resource Management team, which includes CASP. She is passionate about improving the world through her deep devotion to numbers, as well as financial management and policies. Nirvana will expand on her passion this fall, starting her master’s degree in accounting at San Diego State University.

As a transfer student from Imperial Valley College, Nirvana says that receiving the Chancellor's Associates Scholarship changed her life's trajectory forever. “Receiving the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship solidified my decision to say yes to UC San Diego. Although the financial support encouraged me to choose UC San Diego, it was the people in the scholarship program that guided me through my undergraduate journey. If it wasn't for the great mentorship of Academic Support Coordinator Karen Van Ness, I wouldn't have made it to the graduation line. In fact, once upon a time, I was ready to withdraw because I didn't think I belonged. However, under Karen's patient guidance through the journey with the unknown and unwritten rules of academia, I was able to find my true north.”

Says Nirvana, “I want to be able to contribute back to the community that allowed me to pursue my degree, supported my dreams, and always encouraged me to continue dreaming even bigger. Participating in the Chancellor's Associates GOLD Challenge is my way of saying ‘Thank you.’ I hope one day a young alumnus out there will be inspired to do the same.”


And learn more about other exceptional Chancellor's Associates: 

Jerry Barakos ’82

Never Too Late — or Too Early

jerry-barakosChancellor’s Associate Jerry Barakos took the Silberman Inspiration Challenge to heart, fulfilling his “desire to give back to the organizations that made success possible.” While he may kid that he is “now in a position to stop and say thank you, but 35 years late,” his message is one that resonates strongly: It is never too late — or too early — to give back.

A 1982 Revelle graduate who went on to medical school at the University of Southern California and an internship, residency, and fellowship at UCSF, Jerry is a private-practice physician who lectures on advances in neuroradiology and participates in extensive Alzheimer’s disease research. As lead neuroradiologist for the world’s largest clinical-research organization, he has traveled the world, providing support on multinational drug trials to make a difference in the care and treatment of patients.

Reflecting on his rewarding career, he notes with appreciative retrospect that he would actively “encourage recent graduates to stay in touch with their alma mater . . . It is the connection and acknowledgment that counts.”

George ’73 and Lissa Elliott ’72

Considering “Someday,” Today

george-and-lissaChancellor’s Associates George and Lissa Elliott met during orientation week in 1965 and have shared a five-decade journey since their days in the “experimental” coed dormitory Discovery Hall.

Originally part of UC San Diego’s second undergraduate class, the Elliotts have watched with pride, seeing the school develop from “a few hundred students on a campus that was half desert,” into a thriving community. After a hiatus for marriage and George’s army service, Lissa went on to become the university’s first student to earn a degree in theater (Muir, 1972), while George received his BA in biology (Revelle, 1973), followed by a PhD from the University of Utah and postdoctoral work at Cambridge University and UC Berkeley.

They devoted their careers to advancing the arts and sciences, with Lissa working in ballet administration and at a school for pupils with language-based learning disabilities and George serving twenty-seven years at the US Patent and Trademark Office, where he started as a biotechnology examiner and ultimately became a deputy chief policy officer.

Now retired and living in Alexandria, Virginia, they have become dedicated contributors, championing access to higher education by gifting what they can now and pledging half of their estate: “We would ask UC San Diego alumni and friends to consider helping others gain the advantages of the education and life experiences the university provides. It gives us great pleasure to give back in this way.”

Joan ’82 and Tom Elliott ’84

Proud Tritons

joan-and-tomJoan and Tom Elliott are native Angelenos who each decided to give UC San Diego a try for college. They met as undergrads, then stayed in San Diego to raise their family, and they have remained proud believers in the University of California ever since — one of the reasons they enjoy maintaining their Chancellor’s Associates connection to campus and seeing the early fruits of their philanthropic investments.

Like many graduates of UC San Diego, Tom went to work at Qualcomm, a company known for its culture of community, with employees who often return to campus looking for or creating opportunities to give back. Now retired, Tom is doing just that: finding his niche. Having most recently served on the selection committee for Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards — which was, he joked, like doing a research paper over winter break — he is now thinking of helping in the physical sciences.

Joan, a community-college teacher who retired to raise daughter Taryn and son Sean, assisted at her children’s schools and has long volunteered for the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus. When Taryn and Sean entered college, Joan stayed connected to their education by contributing to Chancellor’s Associates at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz — and, of course, to UC San Diego, where the Elliotts’ gifts enhance the education of other young people.

She and Tom share a great awareness of what a UC San Diego degree makes possible, with Joan noting, “We’re really pleased that Chancellor’s Associates funds support undergraduates . . . It was such a great experience meeting some of the scholars from the first class of students to receive the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship!”

Sue, PhD ’86, and Steve Hart, MA ’80

Following Our Harts, in Student Success

sue-and-steveHonored with Chancellor’s Medals in 2014, Sue and Steve Hart have long been champions of UC San Diego, fortifying initiatives that connect academic promise with possibility, including the Alumni Leadership Scholarship. They joined Chancellor’s Associates in 2000 and have continually mobilized the boundary-breaking programs that open doors for students from underserved communities. In March, these innovators were again recognized for their outstanding cultivation of nontradition, each receiving the prestigious True Triton Award, as alumni who have made invaluable efforts in advancing university goals on campus, in the community, and around the world.

Now these trailblazers are charging into new territory, with the announcement of the Steve and Sue Hart Student Success Endowment, backing scholarships, tutoring, mentoring, and mental-health counseling. Their gift will empower learners, delivering diversified access to higher education and ensuring well-rounded support services throughout each scholar’s campus experience.

Currently serving as vice chairs of the International Leadership Committee for the Campaign for UC San Diego cabinet, the Harts have maintained active participation on a variety of campus boards and councils, including the UC San Diego Foundation board of trustees, the Alumni Association board of directors, and the dean’s council for the Division of Physical Sciences. Steve is also an initiator in industry, having co-founded Viasat Inc., a company at the forefront of satellite networking and digital-communication development. Together, Steve and Sue have elevated UC San Diego’s presence in high-tech research, steering pursuits with the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, which provides hands-on training, mentoring, and think-tank forums, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, which offers an interdisciplinary platform for theoretical exploration of the future.

With their alumni involvement, their immersion in Chancellor’s Associates, and their launch of new resources such as the Student Success Endowment, these True Tritons infuse vitality into the university and inspire all they meet.

Betty Joan Maly and John C. Meyers

Lifelong Volunteers

Maly and Meyers

Civic-minded and selfless, Chancellor’s Associates Betty Joan Maly and John C. Meyers have volunteered with UC San Diego’s School of Medicine for more than 50 years. From the beginning, this amazing duo has helped transform the local culture of medical education, leading by example.

John was among the first doctors in the community to become a volunteer faculty member in reproductive medicine, teaching students and residents the best practices for delivering babies with the most desirable outcomes for mother and child, and is now retired from OB-GYN practice.  Betty Joan, a physiatrist who joined John 3 decades ago, volunteered at first in the department of surgery.  She currently serves as a Voluntary Associate Professor of Medicine in the Owen Clinic and course director, along with co-director Helane Fronek, MD, of the preclinical elective MED 232: The Healer’s Art.  Since establishing the course in 2003, she and John have hosted these fall classes. The volunteer-led program follows an international model that originated at UC San Francisco and supports our university’s aim to teach a different kind of doctor in a different way. Medical care at UC San Diego excels at serving the whole patient, establishing a human connection, and promoting compassionate healing. We debunk the stereotype of the dispassionate medical practitioner because of educators like Betty Joan and John.

Over the decades they have been sharing their stories with eager medical students and residents, John and Betty Joan also recruited other physicians from the community and the School of Medicine to join them in giving students a way of bringing their whole selves to the profession. The experience for both students and faculty to tell their own stories and learn to listen to each other, is a discovery of personal and professional challenges doctors face, tools for self-care, and living the joy of being good medicine. Students electing this course can share with their classmates and grow as the next generations of healers. For more information, please visit

Brian and Paula Powers

Find Your Reason for Giving

brian-and-paulaBrian and Paula Powers strive to spur progress around the globe. When Brian first became involved with UC San Diego, in 2003, it was as an International Advisory Board member for the School of Global Policy and Strategy, utilizing the experience he had gained as tai-pan of Jardine Matheson and CEO of both Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd. and Hellman & Friedman. But this business ace and his wife find the most rewarding way to instill success is through community philanthropy. “Assisting young people in achieving their educational goals is the best kind of investment,” Brian says.

A retired law professor and attorney, Paula is an assiduous volunteer, serving on boards for the Old Globe, the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, and the Oberlin Dance Collective. She and Brian relocated to San Diego because it seemed an ideal community, with prominence in culture and education, and they were particularly impressed with UC San Diego’s nontraditional economic diversity (fourth nationally for low-income student access). They became Chancellor’s Associates in 2013, drawn by the group’s commitment to outreach, and are pleased to see UC San Diego’s current momentum (including our 70 percent first-generation scholar cohort, in 2017). According to Paula, they “are believers in supporting educational opportunities for young people, especially first-generation college students and those from underserved communities.”

It was a particularly moving encounter with four Chancellor’s Associates Scholars last fall that fully piqued their drive to do more. Inspired by the “enthusiasm, passion, and range of interests and ambitions” the students voiced, the couple decided to amplify their impact, giving $100,000 in support of scholarship recipients’ multiyear needs. They hope to motivate other Chancellor’s Associates, encouraging us all to “take time to meet students and hear their stories — you will find your reason to be more involved.”

Karen and Jeff Silberman

Education: "The Stepping-Stone for Life" 

Karen and Jeff SilbermanAs a child, Jeff Silberman recalls Roger Revelle, Chancellor Herbert York, and other UC San Diego founders visiting with his parents, who were highly involved in supporting the university’s initial growth. At the same time, Karen Silberman’s grandparents, Anne and Abe Ratner, were among the inaugural donors who launched UC San Diego’s Chancellor’s Associates. Her parents, Pauline and Stan Foster, were also dedicated benefactors of UC San Diego for more than three decades.

“My parents and my in-laws saw very early on the importance of UC San Diego for our community and the world at large,” notes Jeff. “Karen and I are compelled to honor their legacy.” Karen adds, “For the last 20 years of my mother’s life, I heard many, many times, ‘Education is the single greatest opportunity a human being can ever have given to them.’”

Extending their family’s fifty-year tradition of philanthropy, the couple made history in 2017 by pledging a $1 million match of eligible contributions to Chancellor’s Associates — the largest gift ever given to the program. Their Inspiration Challenge has profoundly expanded funding for the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship, which provides access for talented local students (many from underserved communities) to attain education of the highest caliber at UC San Diego.

Jeff and Karen’s dedication, insight, and kindness embody their commitment to education and inspire the community. Their support for the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship reinforces their belief that “Education is the most important gift you can give. It is the stepping-stone for life.”