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Bakersfield College receives record $13.7-million gift

March 24, 2011 |  3:28 pm

Bakersfield College announced Thursday what officials described as the single largest donation from an individual to any community college nationwide, a $13.7-million gift to the college from a Bakersfield dermatologist.

The donor, Dr. Norman Levan, is 95 and still sees patients once a week. Most of his gift will be used for a scholarship endowment that is expected to pay for fees, books and a portion of living expenses for about 250 Bakersfield College students each year.

A graduate of USC’s Medical School and former chief of dermatology there, Levan did not attend Bakersfield College. His ties to that community college began with his friendship with a former school president, John Collins, who was his patient as well, officials said.

The previous record for a private, non-corporate donation to a single community college was reported to be the $10 million Eli and Edyth Broad gave in 2008 to support arts programming at Santa Monica Community College. That same year, the Bernard Osher Foundation gave $50 million for financial aid for books, supplies, tools and uniforms across the California community college system, the largest donation to such a system.

Levan, a widower who has no children, is known in higher education circles for his philanthropy.  In 2006, he gave $5.7 million to Bakersfield College. He is also a major donor to USC and to St. John’s College in Santa Fe, N.M., which he also attended.

-- Larry Gordon