By Nancy Sokoler Steiner
THE RECENT CONTRIBUTION TO UCLA of $500,000 from Carol and Jim Collins continues a lifetime of giving by the couple. The gift will create a laboratory space, located in the Reed Neurological Research Center, dedicated to the study of precision medicine in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
“My parents previously funded the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program Caregiver’s Support Group to help families with loved ones dealing with these difficult conditions,” says daughter Cathy Hession, president of the Carol and James Collins Foundation.
“Now they’re supporting efforts to arrest Alzheimer’s and dementia earlier in the process. We know precision medicine is the wave of the future and are pleased to create a space where researchers can collaborate and benefit from the synergy of working together.”
The couple made their first donation to UCLA in 1963; one could say UCLA runs in their blood. Carol grew up in Westwood and attended the UCLA Lab School — at the time called University Elementary School — and accompanied her father to UCLA football games. She and Jim met as UCLA sophomores. On their first date, they attended the wedding of one his fraternity brothers to one of her sorority sisters. Arriving home afterward, Carol told her mother, “I am going to marry that man!” The couple wed in 1950.
“When you graduate from UCLA, your heart is there forever,” Jim Collins says. Carol agrees. “I’m so proud of everything UCLA has accomplished. It’s the best university in the world.” Their commitment to giving began early. Jim, who built an international food corporation, championed UCLA’s business school even before it became the Anderson School of Management, including serving on its Board of Advisors. Having been on the track team, Jim also supported many sports initiatives, including the renovation of Pauley Pavilion. He served as president of the UCLA Alumni Association, chaired the 1982 UCLA Campaign for six years and served on the executive board of The Centennial Campaign for UCLA.
Carol served on the boards of UCLA’s Women & Philanthropy and Lab School. Through their foundation, they also focus on creating quality educational opportunities. In recent years, the couple has focused their support on geriatrics. In 2019, they gave a $5 million gift to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to expand geriatric care and training. Prior to that, they donated $1.25 million to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program and $1 million to the Alzheimer’s Risk Reduction Initiative.
The Collinses also created the James and Carol Collins Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine, as well as the Carol and James Collins Chair in the UCLA Department of Neurology. In 2016, Carol and Jim were awarded the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, by Chancellor Gene D. Block in recognition of their extraordinary achievements that demonstrate the highest ideals of UCLA. “Dad would say that when you have experienced good fortune, you have great responsibility to give back,” Hession says. “My parents thought it was important to model that for their children. They also wanted to set an example for folks around them professionally and socially, in the hopes that those in a position to give would be inspired to do so.” She notes that in addition to their personal giving, the couple’s children and grandchildren participate with them in foundation meetings and approve foundation gifts as a family.
“Funds donated to UCLA impact so much good work, whether it be through supporting students, physicians, artists or scientists,” says Hession, who serves on the UCLA Geriatrics Board of Advisors. “UCLA is addressing all the pressing issues like climate change and homelessness and leading the way in research and development. We know that when we donate to UCLA, it is incredibly impactful and well spent.”
Nancy Sokoler Steiner is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.
For more information, contact Christopher Carbado at: 310-562-6498.