UCSD to lose vice chancellor of rainmaking

Official lured big-dollar donor into giving $100 million for flashy stem cell center.

Khosla and T. Denny Sanford
  • Khosla and T. Denny Sanford

A high-dollar fundraiser for the so-called health sciences branch of UCSD is heading off to the City of Hope in Duarte to become chief rainmaker there.

Kristin Jean Bertell

Kristin Jean Bertell

Kristin Jean Bertell, who was named associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences Development at UCSD two years ago in October, received gross pay of $247,800 in 2013, according to the University of California's salary website.

Set to report in February as "chief philanthropy officer,” Bartell will "provide executive and strategic oversight for all aspects of City of Hope’s philanthropic efforts, as the cancer treatment center and biomedical research institution enters a new era of growth and development," according to the nonprofit's announcement of the move.

A year before being named associate vice chancellor, Bertell became "executive director of development for principal gifts" for UCSD's health sciences operation.

Prior to that the UCLA graduate had variously served as vice president for Institute Relations at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and as a senior vice president of the Greenwood Company in San Francisco, which "is particularly well-known for the development of successful fundraising strategies for health care institutions grappling with the fundraising challenges caused by health systems, tightening institutional budgets, [and] dramatic changes in the delivery of health care and managed care," the firm's website says.

Luring elderly high-rollers into funding flashy medical centers named after themselves has grown into a multibillion-dollar national business, and Bertell is no slacker, credited in the City of Hope's December 15 news release with having been "the primary development lead in securing a landmark $100 million donation" for UCSD's Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center.

The cash came from billionaire T. Denny Sanford, who piled up big money at South Dakota's First Premier bank issuing high-interest credit cards to so-called credit-impaired customers.

"First Premier now has 3 million active cardholders," Forbes reported in 2007. "Its cards are to be avoided if possible — they have 10% to 20% interest rates but cost $175 in fees to get a card with a $1,000 limit. The typical customer stays only 18 months before graduating to something better. 'We provide a lifeline for credit-impaired people,' Sanford says."

According to UCSD's website, "His gift to create the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center is the second largest donation received by UC San Diego in its 53-year history, following only the $110 million gift by Joan and Irwin Jacobs to endow the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering."

For her achievements at UCSD, Bertell was named in October as "Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year" by the San Diego chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Steve Gamer

Steve Gamer

As previously reported, UCSD has been on a fundraiser hiring binge, in February obtaining the services of Steve Gamer as vice chancellor of advancement, to be paid a total of $455,792 in his first year to “cultivate” wealthy would-be donors.

The same month, the school posted a job notice for "four seasoned development professionals in the areas of Cancer, Orthopedics, Neurosciences/Stem Cell/Healthy Aging and Health Sciences."

“Under the direction of the Executive Director of Development-Health Sciences, the Director of Development will be responsible for securing major gifts ($100,000 and above) for priorities identified by Health Sciences leadership.

“Special emphasis will be placed on creating and implementing strategies for successful solicitations and building strategic relationships with academic and medical center faculty and staff.”

In addition, in May of this year the school advertised for a director of "regional engagement" to fuel the university's "donor development pipeline.”

"The Director will outline multi-year plans to effectively and meaningfully engage alumni and qualify them as donor prospects while deepening their propensity for advocacy and volunteer service," said the job notice. The amount of salary was not provided.

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"The cash came from billionaire T. Denny Sanford, who piled up big money at South Dakota's First Premier bank issuing high-interest credit cards"

We'd like to thank the credit-impaired for making this stem cell research possible: your poor choices and misfortune will provide a nice workplace for generations of USCD docs, post-docs, PhD's and even the lowly biologists with just a BA (themselves good candidates for T Denny's loansharking).

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