Campus Messages

An archive of email messages sent to the entire UCSF community by the Chancellor and members of the Chancellor's Cabinet.

Unprecedented Gift to UCSF Honors Helen Diller

Dear Members of the UCSF Community,

The new year has brought us extraordinary news: We have received a $500 million gift – the largest in our history – in the name of one of our most cherished friends, the late Helen Diller.

The Helen Diller Foundation granted these funds in honor and remembrance of Helen’s lifelong dedication to education and in later years, to health science. The gift is one of the largest ever made to a U.S. university, and we are humbled and honored to receive it.

The gift is remarkable not just in its sum, but in its structure – as unique and generous as Helen herself. The majority of the new donation, $400 million, over time will establish endowments in Helen’s name to support UCSF faculty and students, a critical University goal. This increases UCSF’s endowment, which currently stands at $2.25 billion, by nearly 18 percent.

Of the endowed funds, $100 million will create the Helen Diller Distinguished Professorships, used for retaining and recruiting senior faculty leaders, and another $100 million will establish the Helen Diller Faculty Scholars program to provide crucial funding for early- and mid-career scientists. Additionally, $200 million in endowed funds will fuel the Helen Diller Scholarship Program to support students at UCSF’s four professional schools and allow many to graduate with minimal debt.

The final $100 million will create an Innovation Fund of unrestricted money that can be drawn on, over time, at my and future chancellors’ discretion. Read here for more details about the gift.

This is by no means the only gift made in Helen’s name. Since 2003, the Helen Diller Foundation has made significant annual gifts and provided for a permanent endowment for the Cancer Center in Diller’s honor totaling more than $150 million. This includes a generous $30 million foundational investment to support construction of what is now the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building.

Of course, you all know the powerful implications of this new gift. It is an unprecedented investment in our faculty and scholars and the new talent to follow. And the innovation funds will allow me to agilely respond to UCSF’s most exciting opportunities.

Helen’s legacy will extend for generations in the discoveries made and treatments developed by students and faculty whose drive and imagination are fueled by her generosity.

It is indeed the happiest of new years.


Sam Hawgood, MBBS
Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Chair