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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UC Davis alumni couple donates $8 million

Long-time donors and alumni, Joelle and Michael Hurlston, gift UC Davis $8 million to support two colleges, the Graduate School of Management and Aggie Compass

By JENNIFER MA — campus@theaggie.org 

Joelle and Michael Hurlston recently gave $8 million to UC Davis’ fundraising campaign, Expect Greater: From UC Davis, for the world. Their contribution will not only go toward students’ academic and career success but also toward a program working to eliminate food insecurity. 

Joelle Hurlston is a 1989 College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences graduate and Michael is a 1988 College of Engineering alumnus. He has also received an MBA and master’s degree from UC Davis, in 1990 and 1991, respectively. 

The donation will be split between the Graduate School of Management, the College of Engineering and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as well as the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center. 

“We’ve tried to reach as many students this time and not just specific to our colleges,” Joelle said. “Whatever [anyone’s] interested in, if it’s pre-law, pre-med, engineering, environmental science, whatever it is, hopefully our gift will be able to touch students.”

According to the couple, they are giving the Dean of Student Affairs discretion regarding the specifics of the Aggie Compass contribution. They believe the university will use the funds as best as they can. 

The Graduate School of Management will receive its first endowed deanship, which provides funds for teaching, research and outreach.

In the College of Engineering, the gift will go toward the Diane Bryant Engineering Student Design Center. This center will provide all students, not just engineering majors, with hands-on experiences and opportunities through creating prototypes, welding and more.

“The College [of Engineering]’s innovation ecosystem sets the Aggie engineering experience apart from other programs and the new Diane Bryant Engineering Student Design Center is the central hub where it all comes together,” Richard Corsi, the dean of the College of Engineering, said via email. “If it weren’t for generous alumni and friends, like Michael and Joelle Hurlston, we wouldn’t be able to build this state-of-the-art facility, so we are tremendously grateful to them for their investment and support.”

Lastly, the donation to the Internship and Career Center for agricultural and environmental sciences students will help foster programs and services for career development. 

Shaun Keister, the vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations and the president of the UC Davis Foundation, said that he appreciates the holistic nature of the donation.

“It’s really important to [Joelle and Michael] to help all students; that was their real, ultimate goal,” Keister said. “One part of the gift was to support basic needs and food insecurity of students at Davis. So that’s an especially gratifying and impactful piece of the gift. But everything they’re doing is helping students, it’s just in different ways.”

 As of Feb. 16, the Expect Greater campaign has garnered $1.5 billion, but this is only 75% of its target goal of $2 billion. 

“We want to inspire other people to give back,” Michael said. “We’ve both received tons of messages from our friends, colleagues, saying how inspirational it is. And we hope that inspiration translates into other people doing similar things.” 

Joelle echoed this statement with a call to action for new alumni. 

“We want to encourage new graduates, new alumni to maybe not go out to dinner twice in one year and [instead] give $100 a year,” she said. “If everybody gave $100 a year, that would [have] a huge impact on the university. Our gift is a lot, but it doesn’t need to be that much to donate to the university.”

Written by: Jennifer Ma — campus@theaggie.org  


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