José and Lisa Bedolla


Today, José Luis Bedolla is a business owner and patent-holding inventor — but earlier in life he was an undocumented student at Berkeley, the son of parents who didn’t go beyond elementary school. Ever mindful of his roots, he and his wife, Berkeley professor and alumna Lisa García Bedolla, have endowed a scholarship for undocumented students at their alma mater. “The roadblocks for students, particularly Dreamers, are so much greater than they were before,” says José Luis.

Lisa, a professor in the Graduate School of Education, agrees. As Cuban refugees, her parents had to leave everything behind. “These students manage to flourish in the most difficult of circumstances,” she says of undocumented students, noting that they often are the most in need of financial aid. “Rather than deporting them, we should be appreciating their contributions.”

The couple recently doubled their scholarship’s endowment, and they hope to serve as models for other Berkeley alumni to give back, noting that anyone can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

“It’s a small amount of money,” José Luis says. “It’s the symbolism that somebody thinks you are worth giving money to — you’re valued. You belong here. You’re part of the community here.”

Judith Bloom


“I have Berkeley in my blood,” jokes Judith Bloom, and she’s not exaggerating by much. The former Cal undergraduate student met her late husband, Dan ’61, during her first week on campus. They later married, settled in town, and raised two children, including another university alumnus, their son Jim ’85.

Berkeley remains in Judith’s heart, as well. As a Charter Hill Society Associate, she regularly supports four areas of campus life: Cal Performances, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, and the Center for Jewish Studies. In particular, Cal Performances has given Judith some wonderful memories. “I’ve seen performers very familiar to me and experienced new programs and performances,” she says. “I even had the pianist Emanuel Ax play ‘Happy Birthday’ to me on a special birthday.”

A retired certified public accountant, Judith sees firsthand the value of Cal not just to the local Berkeley community but also to the state and the world at large. “On a local level, having the world’s premier public university in our community makes this an exciting place to live,” she says. “But it also has made — and continues to make — California great, too.”

Dave and Angelica Clark


More than three decades after graduating from Cal, Dave Clark remains connected to his alma mater — as both a donor and a Cal Parent. Reflecting that deep connection is the recurring generosity that Dave and his wife, Angelica, have displayed toward Berkeley over the years. “I’ve been a donor every year since I graduated,” says Dave, a portfolio manager, “in the beginning giving very modestly and slowly increasing over the years.”

Their status as Cal Parents — their eldest daughter, Alexandra, will graduate in 2019 — only strengthened their support. “It’s reinforced our desire to help Cal in any way we can,” says Angelica, a retired investment professional who also volunteers on the Cal Parents Board along with Dave. “It’s important to try and support the academic institution your child is attending.”

That’s exactly what they’ve done, most recently supporting the Cal Parents Fund and Intercollegiate Athletics, the latter inspired by Dave’s years playing rugby at Cal as well as Alexandra’s participation in women’s crew. For the Clarks, Cal is practically a part of the family, and deserving of consistent support. “We feel it’s important to give back,” Dave says, “and we hope to instill that legacy of giving in Alexandra as well.”

Allan and Sydne Bortel


As Berkeley alumni, Allan and Sydne Bortel know firsthand how exceptional the university is. But a recent campus tour with their granddaughter, a high school junior, reminded the couple of Cal’s power to shape the world’s brightest young minds. “The enthusiasm on campus, the sense of support between students, the caliber of the professors — it all leads us to want to continue to support the university,” says Sydne, a retired social worker who now tutors first-grade schoolchildren from immigrant families.

Though the Bortels both earned graduate degrees at Cal, they are particularly inspired by the potential of the university’s talented undergraduates. “These students have an incredible challenge ahead,” says Allan, a retired investment banker, “and Berkeley provides focus and a culture of responsibility beyond any experience that I or our grown children received.”

Allan and Sydne’s wide-ranging support of Cal — from the Haas School of Business and the School of Optometry to the Library and the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life — reflects their belief in its ability to transform lives in a variety of ways. “A contribution to UC Berkeley,” Sydne says, “is an investment in the future of our world.”

Rishi Chopra


For Rishi Chopra, the motivation to give back to his alma mater is clear: he simply wants to pay it forward. “By giving,” Rishi says, “I’m hoping to help keep alive the promise of Berkeley for future generations of students.”

His gratitude to Berkeley not only stems from his education — he earned a degree in electrical engineering — but also from the Cal family at large. “A fellow Berkeley alumnus hired me at IBM,” he says, referring to his work as an engineer for the tech stalwart after graduation. Over the years, Rishi has consistently given back to the College of Engineering, taking advantage of generous gift-matching programs, as well as to the Library and Intercollegiate Athletics, among many areas of campus.

For Rishi, the need to support the world’s number one public university is stronger than ever. “Our alma mater is the best in the world,” he says, “but state support has dwindled over the past 10 to 15 years. The most important thing should be to ensure that all deserving students, even those with a lack of means, can come to Berkeley. That promise is why the campus stays close to the hearts of so many.”

Jon and Denise Fan


For Jon Fan, being connected to UC Berkeley is all he’s ever known — he’s a lifelong resident of Berkeley and the son of two Cal alumni. His bond with the campus strengthened considerably when he enrolled as a student and met his wife, Denise, while playing together on their dorm’s intramural basketball team.

“We both regard Cal as a transformational experience in our lives,” says Jon, a product manager at a software company. “It played a big part in who we are today.”

These days, the Fans happily give back — across the campus — to the institution that gave them so much. “We’ve focused on areas that we relate to the most,” says Denise, the corporate controller of a restaurant group. “We donate to Cal volleyball because we love the sport and want to support the student-athletes in a sport that may not get as much funding as the major ones. Our engineering gifts are a nod to Jon’s studies. And we donate to scholarships because we understand what it’s like when financial means are a major obstacle to one’s pursuit of a quality education.”

Jon and Denise have a passion for supporting minority, low-income, and underrepresented students. “Cal provides us with a great opportunity to do just that,” says Jon. “The university plays a big part in our overall philanthropic priorities each year.”

Jim and Ruth Reynolds


Though they aren’t Cal alumni or Bay Area natives, Jim and Ruth Reynolds have truly appreciated living in Berkeley ever since relocating from Seattle in the 1980s. At the heart of their love for the city is the university. “Berkeley is such a great place to call home,” says Jim, a retired executive who worked for Peet’s Coffee. “And UC Berkeley is a big part of that.”

In particular, Jim and Ruth treasure the campus’s many offerings in the arts — Ruth, in fact, is an artist herself — and as donors they devote much of their support to those areas of campus, including Cal Performances and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).  Jim also sits on the board of Cal Performances and previously served as a BAMPFA trustee. But it’s not just the arts that excite the couple about the university.

“When we talk to people about how good Cal is,” says Jim, “it’s not just the museum or the arts — it’s the excellence of the academics as well. I’ve always appreciated Cal’s role in keeping a lively intellectual atmosphere here in the Bay Area.”

Ruth adds, “Both of us are really enthusiastic about Cal. We love walking through the campus and taking in that feeling of excitement and intellectual ferment going on.”