Faculty, Staff Recognized for Stewardship

Leonard Abbeduto environmental portrait
Stewardship award recipient: Professor Leonard ‘Len’ Abbeduto, director of the MIND Institute.

The University of California, Davis, Office of Development and Alumni Relations and the UC Davis Foundation today (Sept. 19) announced the recipients of this year’s Faculty and Staff Stewardship Awards: Leonard “Len” Abbeduto of UC Davis Health, Charles “Chik” Brenneman of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Michael Kent of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The awards recognize exemplary work in engaging and connecting donors to the university. Although the recipients do not have careers focused on fundraising, their efforts have helped support a culture of philanthropy in the UC Davis community that will have a lasting impact on UC Davis students, infrastructure, programs and more.

Read more about the Faculty and Staff Stewardship Award Program.

This year’s award recipients will be honored at a meeting of the foundation board on Friday, Oc. 27, at the UC Davis Conference Center.

Faculty Stewardship Awards

Len Abbeduto — Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behaviorial Sciences and the director of the MIND Institute, and, as such, integrally involved in the institute’s stewardship strategy. His passion for the MIND Institute’s work shines through his outreach efforts directly to donors and in newsletters and annual updates, and his gratitude for donors is shown in the personalized birthday, holiday and special occasion cards he sends. He consistently makes himself available to donors and their families, including by traveling to those who are unable to visit the MIND Institute personally.

Abbeduto’s dedication is contagious. Many donors who have made gifts in the past — and maybe planned on only a single gift — have been inspired by Abbeduto’s passion to continue giving and supporting the research done at the MIND Institute.

Michael Kent holding a cat in exam room
Stewardship award recipient: Professor Michael Kent, director of the Center for Companion Animal Health.

Michael Kent — Professor of radiation oncology in Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine; and director of the Center for Companion Animal Health. He is directly responsible for deepening countless relationships with grateful clients, alumni and others who help support UC Davis’ efforts on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine. Despite his overflowing schedule, he is known for responding promptly to donors and clients.

An easily recognizable face in the UC Davis community, Kent provides tours to visitors, speaks at events and travels frequently to steward donors. Kent goes above and beyond to keep donors and other community members informed about the latest news and developments in UC Davis’ veterinary medicine research.

Kent’s stewardship efforts have resulted in the Center for Companion Animal Health’s annual giving totals becoming the largest in the School of Veterinary Medicine. And his personal attention to the most generous supporters of the School of Veterinary Medicine — including one donor who has contributed more than $6 million — has helped UC Davis maintain the support it needs to maintain its position as the No. 1 veterinary medicine school in the world.

Staff Stewardship Award

Chik Brenneman mugshot

Chik Brenneman — Winery manager for the Department of Viticulture and Enology, responsible for all teaching and research winemaking operations and facilities. He is at the core of the department’s activities, including the provision of grapes and the preparation of space and equipment to ensure classes and faculty research projects can be implemented. The department’s Research and Teaching Winery is 100 percent funded by philanthropy, and Brenneman played an integral role in planning the facility and inspiring the giving that made it possible. He continues to actively steward the gifts that were provided so they have their greatest impact.

The Research and Teaching Winery serves as a model for the world in how to make the best wines using revolutionary technology and sustainable practices. As a result, the winery each year hosts hundreds of visitors who are interested in winemaking, sustainability and innovation. Brenneman is a frequent host for these guests who are largely UC Davis donors, alumni or others who may support UC Davis because of Brenneman’s welcoming spirit. His knowledge of the winery and its equipment blend with his passion for UC Davis to inspire generosity and pride.

Nominations are welcome for next year’s awards. To recognize other faculty and staff members whose extraordinary relationship-building practices are advancing the culture of philanthropy at UC Davis, send nominations by email to Casey Becker.

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