As our community continues to gather safely at virtual presentations and events, I hope that you have found interesting the different speakers and areas that we have featured. Many of our presentations have been recorded and can be viewed on our newly created YouTube channel. While we continue to follow the local protocols and will miss our annual celebrations and Bruin Woods weekend, we will still continue to be creative and thoughtful in ways we can connect with one another.
In this issue of our eNewsletter, we are happy to connect you with donors, virtual event opportunities, and to highlight a special area of campus. UCLA has a wealth of knowledge across a breadth of disciplines and initiatives in our American Indian Studies Center are being spearheaded by some of the country’s most respected and influential scholars of Indigenous issues. We are excited to share some of the important work taking place in this center with you.
While we continue to be separated, I am emboldened by the perseverance I see in our communities every day across the globe. Positive change is coming, and I look forward to embracing it with you, together, as Bruins.
Wishing you health and joy,
Chau Le ’88 Chair, UCLA Chancellor’s Society
CAMPUS SPOTLIGHT: ACKNOWLEDGING NATIVE PEOPLES AT UCLA
As a land grant institution with both local and global impact, UCLA is committed to acknowledging and developing platforms for equity, diversity and inclusion. This month, we highlight UCLA’s recent adoption of land acknowledgements and the important steps that Indigenous people are making to create a more equitable university.
A land acknowledgement recognizes and respects the Indigenous peoples as traditional caretakers of the land on which UCLA resides. This acknowledgement is often done at the beginning of lectures, sports games, or any public event. In consultation of Chancellor Block, Gabrielino/Tongva elders and faculty affiliated with the American Indian Studies Center (AISC) and the Interdepartmental Program in American Indian Studies have developed language that acknowledges UCLA’s presence on lands stewarded by Indigenous peoples. To that end, the UCLA Chancellor’s Society recognizes UCLA’s presence on the ancestral and unceded land of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples.
UCLA Associate Professor and Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Native American and Indigenous Affairs, Dr. Mishuana Goeman, states, “The acknowledgement is really an introduction: a way for UCLA to recognize its position within the history of its physical and cultural environment but also in relation to an ever-evolving present.” UCLA understands that we have a responsibility to acknowledge the Gabrielino/Tongva people of past, present, and future. Together, we can better activate the campus to support American Indian and Indigenous students and communities. In this regard, the AISC has been leading several critical efforts that ensure Indigenous issues and concerns remain at the forethought of public awareness.
One of these efforts is the annual celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day. The AISC played a significant role in advocating for renaming this day in 2017, which was previously called Columbus Day. By officially adopting Indigenous Peoples Day, the Los Angeles City and County is beginning to address structural inequality and amplify Indigenous voices.
This year, a main priority for the AISC is to address the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic that are being felt by American Indian Studies students. The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted American Indian and Indigenous communities and students, and many are currently struggling to obtain support for their basic academic resources, such as laptops and access to the books they need. Others still need support for basic living expenses, such as food and rent. In this moment of uncertainty, these Bruins are faced with additional hurdles to overcome on top of their remote learning. Support of these students is a crucial undertaking that the AISC is perpetually raising money for, and their AISC COVID-19 Response Fund is one of the most effective ways to enable the successes of these young Bruins.
Click here to learn more about the AISC, their continued work, and how you can support their efforts.
NEW DONOR RESOURCES
UCLA is committed to making your donor experience as seamless as possible – that’s why we’re excited to introduce you to My Giving Gateway. This new platform provides your giving history to UCLA, easy access receipts for your recent gifts, and the opportunity to update some of the information you share with us.
If you haven’t already registered, here are a few easy-to-follow steps for getting started with this new tool:
We hope that My Giving Gateway proves to be a valuable resource for you moving forward!
DONOR SPOTLIGHT: STEVEN LESSER
For some individuals in our Chancellor’s Society community, their connection to UCLA is brand new and for others it has been lifelong. Born and raised in Los Angeles, volunteer and donor Steve Lesser ’71 has always felt a strong influence from UCLA, and along with his degree he received a full understanding of the importance of philanthropy and the joy of generosity.
Introduced to UCLA through his attendance at sporting events and homecoming parades with his grandparents, Steve was submerged in UCLA’s diverse environment at an early age. As a student, that exposure was only strengthened. Steve notes that while pursuing his undergraduate in history, his coursework had a particular emphasis on world cultures: “The diversity in the learning experience I received at UCLA really helped to shape my view of the world, and ultimately, the reasons why I choose to give back.”
Through his time on campus, Steve quickly gained the understanding that many students did not have access to the educational resources comparable to what he received at UCLA. This understanding has shaped much of his post-graduation life and efforts on behalf of UCLA in the Bay Area. Initially, it was the Alumni Association, of which Steve is a lifetime member, that encouraged him to get further involved in the alumni communities. This led to his volunteer work with the Bay Area Bruins (he ultimately served as President) where he participated in outreach to potential students and attended college fairs to share the UCLA experience with young people considering their next steps towards a college education. Steve then served on the Board of the Alumni Association as the Chair of all the worldwide Regional Clubs. Now, as a volunteer with the Northern California Chancellor’s Society Committee, Steve continues his outreach efforts to peers, spreading awareness of UCLA’s ever-present need for student support and other fundraising efforts.
In addition to his support of scholarships and athletics at UCLA, Steve finds significant importance in giving to the Chancellor’s Greatest Needs Fund—the campus-wide discretionary support fund. “I’m not a huge donor, but I’m a loyal one,” he notes, “… I trust the Chancellor to allocate my donations effectively – he’s faced with the dynamic needs of campus on a daily basis, when I am not.” In this way, Steve’s well-rounded philosophy of giving reflects his multifaceted world-view that UCLA helped to shape.
To his Chancellor’s Society community, Steve would like to say, “There are always more people to talk to, and more ways to be involved. Now more than ever, thank you to everyone for the work you do, however you do it.”
Many thanks to Steve, and all our Chancellor’s Society donors, near and far, who support UCLA in its mission. For more information on staying connected with UCLA in your region, please contact your regional director.