Top: (From left): UC Regent Sherry Lansing, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, entertainment
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block recently awarded two friends of the university and UCLA Health Sciences — James L. (Jim) Easton and David Geffen — with the UCLA Medal in recognition of their long-standing support and advocacy on behalf of UCLA. The medal is the highest honor the university gives to an individual for extraordinary achievement. It is conferred on those with exceptionally distinguished academic and professional achievement whose bodies of work or contributions to society illustrate the highest ideals of UCLA.
In honor of Easton’s (UCLA ’59) tireless devotion to his alma mater, Chancellor Block presented Easton, a top manufacturer of athletic equipment, with the UCLA Medal on May 8, 2014. Easton received his BS degree in engineering from UCLA in 1959, and for the last five decades he has made extraordinary contributions to the university and the global community. In 2008, he made a $10-million donation in honor of his mother, naming the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA. The UCLA Easton Center also includes the Jim Easton Consortium for Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery and Biomarker Development, a separate research program funded by Easton. In addition, he has supported programs in athletics, management and technology. The UCLA Medal citation presented to Easton states: “In addition to philanthropic gifts, you have lent immeasurable hours of service and strategic guidance, elevating UCLA’s ability to provide competitive learning opportunities and hasten critical research in medicine.”
During the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Hippocratic Oath Ceremony on May 30, 2014, Chancellor Block presented the UCLA Medal to Geffen, entertainment executive and philanthropist. “David Geffen exemplifies the spirit of optimism and innovation that is the hallmark of UCLA,” Chancellor Block said. “By advocating for the arts, healthcare and human rights, he has served as a powerful force for enhancing human welfare and as an exemplary role model in the UCLA community.” In 2012, Geffen — a former regent of the University of California — established the $100-million David Geffen Medical Scholarships, which cover the entire cost of medical education for nearly 20 percent of entering students, enabling them to pursue their dreams and graduate debt-free. In 2002, he made a landmark $200-million unrestricted gift to UCLA’s medical school — at the time the largest gift ever given to UCLA and to the University of California and the largest single donation ever made to a United States medical school. The funding helped propel the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to its current status as a world-class institution for education and research. In 1995, he donated $10 million toward UCLA’s Westwood Playhouse, which was renamed the Geffen Playhouse, and he serves on its board of directors.