Development Presents Stewardship Awards

Ralph W. de Vere White at podium.
Ralph W. de Vere White.

The UC Davis community boasts a strong network of relationships, not only among faculty and staff, but also including their connections with alumni, donors and other friends of the university. Out of these partnerships, the university builds on a culture of philanthropy that allows UC Davis to improve the educational experience and take programs to new heights.

In recognition of faculty and staff efforts in this regard, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations each year gives out awards for faculty stewardship, staff stewardship and lifetime achievement in stewardship. The office established these awards a year ago and recently held its second annual award presentation.

The honorees:

Ralph W. de Vere White, Lifetime Achievement Award — When de Vere White set out to expand the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, he didn’t consider seeking philanthropic funds to achieve his vision.

“Once I learned that the Memorial-Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, a model cancer center, had over 60 percent of its funding come from philanthropy, I knew that this really mattered,” said de Vere White, senior advisor emeritus and distinguished professor emeritus of urology.

And, indeed, philanthropy played a part in the $33 million expansion, completed in 2012. Throughout the project, de Vere White’s stewardship mirrored his approach to treating patients: compassionate and putting people first. He said he sees the donor-institution relationship as a win-win, allowing people to be a part of something they really believe in. “I don’t see it as a solicitation — I see it as an opportunity to allow people to help solve the very issues that keep them up at night.”

De Vere White retired earlier this year after 20 years as the cancer center’s director, and upon stepping down he joined with his wife in establishing an endowed fund to support UC Davis medical students.

Charles Bamforth

Charles W. Bamforth, Faculty Stewardship Award — The Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science came to UC Davis when it had but a single pilot brewery, which he said “really wasn’t anything, to be perfectly frank.” Today, UC Davis boasts five breweries and a sterling reputation in the beer industry on an international scale thanks to Bamforth’s relentless championing of the brewing science program.

His efforts to strengthen UC Davis’ relationship with donors and other partners have involved everything from creating beer and food pairings for events, to connecting brewing companies with his students. His passion coupled with “a team effort of dedicated staff and alumni giving back” has brought his vision to reality: a multifaceted department that produces the highest-level research in the field. His efforts also have helped put UC Davis on the map for having one of the best brewing programs in the world.

Mark Van Horn, Staff Stewardship Award — His secret to stellar stewardship doesn’t involve any flashy presentations or grand gestures. All it takes is a tour of the Student Farm and a conversation with a student volunteer for donors to fall in love with the program.

Mark Van Horn
Van Horn

“Since 1977, the Student Farm has been student-led and student-driven, with students mentoring each other on both the technical farming and the communication and problem-solving skills needed to keep the farm running,” said Van Horn, the farm’s director. He has two UC Davis degrees: a Bachelor of Science in plant sciences (1978) and a Master of Science in pest management (1983).

As farm director, he said, his job is to empower his students, instilling in them a love and appreciation for farming and agriculture.

When he brings donors to the 20-acre farm, he said, he “lets the place do the talking.” Once they see for themselves the wonderful work being done, Van Horn said, and sit down with a passionate student advocating for the transformative power of the program, he knows the donors will believe in the mission of the Student Farm just as much as he does.

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