AN INVITATION TO AN OUTSTANDING PROFESSOR to occupy an endowed chair at UCLA is an exceptional honor, bringing distinction to the incumbent, the university and the donor. Chair holders greatly increase the prestige of their departments or divisions and also attract talented young scholars to study at UCLA, thus contributing in a critical way to the creation of an increasingly vital and intellectually stimulating environment. Serving as powerful recruitment and retention tools, endowed chairs ensure that UCLA will remain among the mostdistinguished universities in the world.
The Skirball Foundation made a $1-million pledge to establish the Jack H. Skirball Endowed Chair in Ocular Inflammatory Diseases at the Jules Stein Eye Institute (JSEI). The chair will enable a distinguished faculty member to engage in groundbreaking investigations and training programs in this field. The late Mr. Skirball spent nearly his entire life dedicated to philanthropy. Since several members of his family had vision problems, research in this area became a priority. Beginning with its first contribution in 1969, The Skirball Foundation has funded visionscience programs at JSEI and, in particular, the endeavors of the UCLA Ocular Inflammatory Disease Center.
Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Mr. Skirball was ordained as a rabbi and then became a pioneer in film as the manager of Educational Films Corporation and president of Skirball Productions, which was responsible for such pictures as Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943). In the 1950s, he began a successful third career as a real-estate developer. Through his relationship with the Music Corporation of America (MCA, Inc.), Mr. Skirball became lifelong friends with Dr. Jules Stein and MCA head Lew Wasserman. The Skirball Chair serves as a lasting legacy to this enduring and influential connection and brings vision specialists closer to improved treatments and, ultimately, a cure and preventive methods.
For many years, brain research focused principally on the causes of cognitive deficiencies. Today, scientists are also looking into the factors that cause cognitive enhancement, or giftedness. UCLA is blazing the trail in this regard through its Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity, inspired by the vision and generosity of investment manager Michael E. Tennenbaum. Mr. Tennenbaum and his family created the center in 2002 to study the molecular and cellular systems and mechanisms that result in cognitive enhancements and explain the unusual levels of performance in gifted individuals – including extraordinary creativity. Recently, they established the Michael E. Tennenbaum Family Endowed Chair in Creativity Research, which supports the teaching and research activities of the director of the Tennenbaum Center, which is located within the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.