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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022

Chapman President Walks the Talk on Donations

Chapman University is on its way to raising $50 million during the current school year, including a $1 million gift from President Daniele Struppa himself.

The president’s bequest will endow the Bernardino Telesio Professorship in Italian Studies to the Italian Studies program of the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

“One of the things that I always say—you cannot raise money unless you give money,” Struppa told the Business Journal last week.

“That is what every donor has in mind. When you become a donor, it helps you understand.”

Orange-based Chapman has long been the beneficiary of many of Orange County’s top donations over the years.

This week’s Business Journal list of the 2021’s Largest Charitable Gifts in OC shows five donations of $1 million or more directed to various arms of the school (see list, page 20).

As a result of those large donations and other gifts, Struppa said the university is on its way to meeting its $50 million fundraising goal during the current school year.

“It’s moving very nicely,” he said. “People were worried about the pandemic. We haven’t seen that at all. Donors understand the challenges and they’re willing to stand up and help. People are more generous than usual.”


Among notable 2021 donations to Chapman are:

• $1.5 million from the Simon Foundation to provide 10 annual full-ride scholarships to students pursuing a Master of Medical Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies, so underserved students can graduate as physician assistants in two years with little or no debt.

The Simon Foundation was founded by Newport Beach’s Ron Simon, who made his wealth building kitchen cabinets and homes, and who sits on Chapman’s Board of Trustees.

Last year, Simon gifted the university $12.9 million for among other things, STEM scholarships and the Sandi Simon Center for Dance.

Chapman’s former chief fundraiser, Sheryl Bourgeois, last year left the school to become president of the Simon Foundation.

• Gail Bash made a $1 million bequest to the Gerald & Virginia Bash Endowed Scholarship to aid students enrolled in pre-ministerial programs or religion majors.

• Mark and Janet Hilbert gave paintings valued at $1 million to the Hilbert Museum, the Orange-based museum that bears their name, and which emphasizes the 20th century by California artists, celebrating the unique artistic and cultural development of the Golden State.

• The Argyros Family Foundation, which has long been a supporter of Chapman, donated $1 million for the George L. Argyros Scholarship Program.

Calabria Lover

Struppa, a native of Italy, often travels for a month every summer to the southern Italian region of Calabria, where Bernardino Telesio was born in 1509.

Telesio was a Renaissance-era philosopher and became known as a forerunner of early modern empiricism.

“I love Calabria,” Struppa said. The bequeath was “to send a gesture of my love. There’s a lot of affection for my roots.

“I could talk to you about this for hours. You get a glimpse of what makes me tick—my love for my land, my emotional connection.”

“I decided to name [Chapman’s Italian Studies program] after this great philosopher so the professor will find the necessity to learn about Telesio,” Struppa said. The professors “will be transported to a different time when humanism was starting in Europe. My hope is they will read something about him.” 

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Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.

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