Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 | 12:09 p.m.
Claremont Graduate University, the Southern California college headed by former UNLV president Len Jessup, has received $14 million from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in one of the largest donations in the school’s history.
The gift, which the university is set to announce Tuesday, will fund the purchase of a campus bookstore building that will be converted to a multidisciplinary health research center to address health challenges in the Inland Empire region. The new center will focus on health and well-being needs that are especially prevalent in underserved populations and Native American communities, and is designed to bring together researchers, scientists and outside partners for collaborations.
Tentatively scheduled for a late 2021 opening, the center will be housed in the 23,000-square-foot Huntley Bookstore, which served Clarmont for 50 years. The bookstore will be relocated to a site yet to be announced.
The $14 million gift is the first major donation received by the university under Jessup, who led UNLV for three years before being hired at Claremont in 2018.
“Real, substantial breakthroughs happen when people from many disciplines come together and collaborate. That’s the hallmark of our transdisciplinary philosophy,” Jessup said in a release. He added that the bookstore purchase “makes it possible to create such a space for that kind of engagement on our campus.”
San Manuel Tribal Chair Ken Ramirez said: “For generations, low-income communities and underserved populations have needed quality health care. Our gift is an investment in future healthier communities.”
The San Manuel tribe, headquartered in San Bernardino County, has a connection to Las Vegas: Its casino became a founding partner of Allegiant Stadium and a sponsor of the Raiders beginning this year.
The tribe’s relationship with Claremont began with a partnership in 2006. Tribal members and university officials began discussing the health center project last year, but progress was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Claremont Graduate University, which was founded in 1925, houses the graduate programs for the five institutions that make up the Claremont Colleges.
Jessup had similar success as a fundraiser at UNLV, helping land several multimillion-dollar gifts for a new instructional building for the upstart UNLV School of Medicine. But before the project could move forward, Jessup was pressured out of the university after facing what his supporters contended were unfair criticisms by Nevada’s higher-education overseers about his management. When his resignation was announced, several major donors either withdrew their contributions or announced they were reconsidering them, saying they didn’t trust higher-ed officials to…