The Power of Giving

Michelle McCarthy

The CSU receives the largest one-time donation in the university’s 61-year history.


​​​​​​​​Have you ever wondered how the kangaroo got her pouch? There's an Aboriginal legend that tells the tale of a mother kangaroo who spots a blind wombat struggling to find food. After leading the wombat to grass, the kangaroo discovers the wombat is actually creator spirit Baiame. To repay the kangaroo for her kindness, Baiame grants her a pouch so she can protect her joey. But rather than thinking only of herself, the kangaroo requests that all of her kind receive the same gift. The moral of the story: When riches come into your life, share them with others.

Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott embodies the lesson of this fable. In June, she donated $2.7 billion to 286 charitable and educational organizations, citing that it “would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others."

Scott gifted a combined $135 million to four CSU campuses: California State University Channel Islands ($15 million), California State University, Fullerton ($40 million), California State University, Northridge ($40 million) and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona ($40 million). Each of these gifts is the most generous ever received by the respective campus. And these are unrestricted funds, which means these campuses are free to utilize the money however they see fit to best meet the unique needs of their diverse students.

In a recent blog post, Scott wrote: “Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for two- and four-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved."

Here, campus presidents react to Scott's donation:

CSU Channel Islands, Interim President Richard Yao
“This gift represents the largest one-time gift in the history of our institution, and it could not have come at a more critical time in our history. The generosity is a testament to the data that reflects the incredible work that our faculty, staff and administration are doing every day to eliminate equity gaps and increase the social mobility of our students by creating powerful academic and co-curricular programs that support student retention and success. We could not be more grateful for their generosity as we recognize the transformative power that this level of support has for our students and campus."

Cal State Fullerton, President Fram Virjee
“While we are still in the very early stages of allocating this gift, all decisions will be driven by our strategic plan and core mission of student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; and faculty research, support and retention. We will also be looking at possible infrastructure improvements, matching fund projects with colleges and enhancing community partnerships.

“As we celebrate this investment and begin the planning phase that will ensure its impact is eternal, please join me in expressing our profound gratitude…not just for the generosity of the gift, but also for the vision and diligence in seeking out and supporting our work and success."

CSUN, President Erika Beck
“This transformative gift provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance our future as leaders in equity-centered student success to provide a brighter and more equitable future for our students, their families and the communities we are so proud to serve.

“…We can, and will, use these dollars to transform our campus for generations to come… There are some clear campus priorities identified, including the elimination of equity gaps, accelerating our work in diversifying the faculty, academic excellence, holistic student support, access to actionable data and other disruptive strategies to facilitate our students' educational goals and intellectual promise. This work will further our campus's role in fostering a world that is just, inclusive and equitable."

Cal Poly Pomona, President Soraya Coley
“A gift of this magnitude represents a transformative moment for our institution. The donation comes at a time when we are actively investing in key areas that advance our Strategic Plan with special focus on student success and future paths; faculty and staff diversity, advancement and well-being; and institutional innovation and excellence. Through a newly created endowment fund, this historic contribution will provide permanent and ongoing support for future generations of Broncos.

“Ms. Scott's generosity will undoubtedly change many lives across Cal Poly Pomona, as well as within communities and families in our region and beyond."

See other ways in which alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, champions and friends have given in support of our students, values and mission.​​