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UCLA School of Public Health gets $50-million gift

February 16, 2012 |  7:51 am

Dr. Jonathan Fielding

The UCLA School of Public Health is receiving an exceptional contribution from L.A. County's top public health doctor. Dr. Jonathan Fielding and his wife, Karin Fielding, are giving $50 million to the school.

The gift, announced Thursday morning, is the largest single donation the school has received since its creation 50 years ago and will come with a new name: the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health.

"This is a truly extraordinary gift," said Linda Rosenstock, the school's dean. "It shows that a leader who has devoted his life to public health believes in our future. He and his family have committed to this belief in an extraordinary way."

The money comes from Fielding's stock in a Texas-based private investment firm, Dimensional Fund Advisors, which manages assets worldwide. The school will receive the income from the stock and all profit from it if it is sold.

Fielding, 69, a faculty member at the university for more than 30 years, said he and his wife had been  very fortunate in their investment and made the decision to share that with the school.

The UCLA School of Public Health has about 85 full-time faculty and 700 students. The school previously had an endowment of $25 million and the largest gift before now was about $5 million.

The gift will be used to provide student scholarships, recruit top faculty, enhance research and improve the campus infrastructure. It will also endow a chair in population health to look at the roles that housing, education and transportation play in people's health.

"I'm absolutely amazed," said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, who has known Fielding for 15 years. "With his donation, he's put an exclamation mark on his dedication to the future of public health."


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Photo: Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County, and his wife, Karin, at their Brentwood home. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times