Charity Begins at the Mansion

With Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposing draconian cuts — including closing 48 state parks and beaches, slashing Medi-Cal and school funding, and releasing 22,159 “low risk” inmates from state prisons — it might not seem like the appropriate time to build UCSD’s chancellor an $8 million mansion. But that’s what’s on the agenda this week for UC regents at their monthly meeting in Los Angeles. UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox, who would inhabit the fancy new digs, argues that the historic house currently occupying the La Jolla Farms site is far too modest and decrepit for the stylishly upscale image the campus wants to project. She also claims that tax-exempt charitable contributions gathered mostly from fat-cat La Jollans would provide the bulk of the financing. Critics of the new mansion argue that in times of major budget cutbacks, any private funds the university can raise should go to more deserving uses. UC officials have been stalling on providing public records with details of the funding plan, but the university did finally release a list of donors who it says are standing by to pay for the project, checkbooks at the ready. They are Richard Atkinson, the former UCSD chancellor and UC president who made a fortune in Qualcomm; Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’s widow; John Moores, ex–UC regent and Padres owner; Irwin Jacobs, Qualcomm founder; Donald and Darlene Shiley; Pauline Foster, mother-in-law of ex–school superintendent Alan Bersin; Malin Burnham, real estate magnate and yachtsman; library-supply king Arthur Brody; and Jerome Katzin, a retired investment banker.

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