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Education School Gift: A California entrepreneur has donated $10 million to the graduate school of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, saying that the best way to improve schooling for children is to make sure they have great teachers.

Announcing the gift to the scenic university about 90 miles north of Los Angeles last week, Don Gevirtz, a businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Fiji, said the money would be used in several ways to develop outstanding educators.

"One of our principal objectives is to see this graduate school produce the very best teachers who can also provide true leadership in public education," Mr. Gevirtz said in a written statement.

The donation will support new research on how to raise student achievement, including opportunities for researchers to implement their ideas in school districts.

It will also finance the development of a visiting- scholars program and a nationwide network of scholars and educators who will explore key issues, such as how to develop school leaders.

Finally, it will pay for fellowships, stipends, and other support to help attract the best students to the graduate school.

Mr. Gevirtz and his wife, Marilyn Gevirtz, have made other gifts to the university's school of education, including $1 million that established the Gevirtz Research Center.

As a result of their latest gift, the school of education will be renamed after the couple.

Philanthropists traditionally have donated much more money to medical and business schools than to graduate schools of education, noted Penelope M. Earley, a vice president of the Washington-based American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

But in the past few years, as concern about the quality of the nation's teaching force has reached new heights, that has begun to change. The school of education at the University of Connecticut at Storrs received $21 million last year, and the education school at the University of Southern California received $20 million in 1998. And now, UC-Santa Barbara joins the league of those large gifts.

"Finally, education schools are catching up to the big gifts given to other university sectors," Ms. Earley said.

"I'd like to think it's because folk are recognizing the importance of collegiate-based education as a field of study and research, and because they believe that fundamentally, the nation will be better for the additional investment in schools."

—Catherine Gewertz [email protected]

Vol. 20, Issue 7, Page 12

Published in Print: October 18, 2000, as Philanthropy

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