Philanthropic Support of CSUN Continues Climb

Alumni and supporters of California State University, Northridge set a new standard for giving in 2015-2016. For the third year in a row, nearly $20 million in gift commitments have been made to CSUN, putting the three-year total at $60.5 million, compared to $36.9 million from the prior three-year period — a 64 percent increase.  The total last year was $19.6 million.

The number of alumni donors supporting their alma mater also rose to new heights, reaching 11,262. This is the third year in a row that there has been a record in total number of donors and alumni donors.

“The entire CSUN community benefits from the extraordinary passion and enthusiasm of our alumni and friends,” CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison said. “We are also seeing a direct correlation between this involvement and increased student success, research breakthroughs and an overall elevation of our reputation in California and beyond.”

There were numerous special stories of giving from throughout the fiscal year. For example, CSUN nutrition professor Terri Lisagor and her husband, Mark, arranged a planned gift to CSUN that will ultimately leave $1 million to establish an endowed scholarship for students in the Resilient Scholars Program, which serves students who were formerly in the foster youth system, and another endowment that will support faculty research, travel, and professional development in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“Back when we were undergraduates, tuition was only $80 per quarter. The costs students have to bear are so much more today,” Terri Lisagor said. “Mark and I believe that cost shouldn’t be an insurmountable barrier to higher education for students, and we hope that this will help resilient scholars who have overcome extraordinary circumstances.”

Alumnus Irv Zakheim ’71 (Physical Education), chairman and CEO of Zak Designs, donated $1.5 million to Matador Baseball as a lead gift to fund renovations and new construction for the program. The gift will help fund a renovated entryway to the stadium, the first of multiple projects that will modernize a complex that is more than 50 years old.

“So much of the success I’ve had, and the person I’ve become, is a direct result of playing baseball at CSUN,” Zakheim said. “Coach Bob Hiegert didn’t just give us the skills to become National Champions, he gave us the skills to succeed in life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to give back to the program and help other Matadors have the same kind of experience and develop the same kinds of skills that they can carry with them into all areas of their lives.”

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) awarded CSUN $2 million to support students and enhance technology in the school’s acclaimed Department of Cinema and Television Arts, which is ranked in the top 25 nationally by The Hollywood Reporter and top 40 globally by Variety. A portion of the grant will go toward creating endowed scholarships to support underrepresented film and television students in the industry. Scholarship recipients will be named Hollywood Foreign Press Association Scholars and be mentored by department faculty and industry professionals.

“There are so many inspirational stories of giving we saw this past year,” said Robert D. Gunsalus, CSUN Vice President for University Advancement and President of the CSUN Foundation. “I also look at the commitment our graduating students made to the university when they set a record with the Senior Class Gift and donated $33,940. When you have alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, corporations and other friends supporting our work, anything is possible.”

Chair of the CSUN Foundation Board Earl Enzer ’83 (Finance) has helped lead CSUN’s philanthropic growth alongside a group of leading alumni and community volunteers. Starting with his days as a student, through his success in business to helping his alma mater today, Enzer has seen how CSUN’s standing in the region continues to grow and positions it to impact lives for many years to come.

“The growth in philanthropic support is a great sign that Matadors and those connected to the university are investing in these students’ futures and in CSUN as a whole,” he said. “It’s exciting to think about the future when we see this growing support for CSUN, and I look forward to seeing our alma mater have an even greater impact locally and beyond, which will give everyone with ties to the university even more reason to stay engaged and offer future support.”

That momentum has already started. At the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ 50th Anniversary Gala on Sept. 22, accounting industry leader Harvey Bookstein ’70 (Business Administration) and his wife Harriet, both CSUN alumni and lifelong supporters of the university, announced a $5 million gift.

“Every time you get near the students of CSUN and see how their eyes light up from the education they are getting, I don’t see how you couldn’t do something for the university,” Harvey Bookstein said.

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