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Generous Gift Allows Cal Athletics to Launch Cameron Institute

May 9, 2019

BERKELEY – With a goal to prepare student-athletes for success after graduation by supporting their overall growth and development as undergraduates, Cal Athletics announced Thursday the formation of the Cameron Institute, an innovative program to support student-athlete development made possible through a $12.5 million gift from C. Bryan Cameron. To help support the venture in perpetuity, $12 million will be placed into an endowment with the balance designated for initial start-up costs.

The Cameron Institute will be based upon three pillars – leadership and personal development, career development, and community engagement – and the organizational structure will be designed to connect with all student-athletes consistently and provide programming over the course of their entire student experience in Berkeley.

"I couldn't be more appreciative to Bryan Cameron for his leadership and vision to create the institute and for his generosity with a transformational gift that will benefit thousands of student-athletes for years to come," Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. "We want to empower our student-athletes so that they are best prepared to pursue their dreams both here on campus and when they go out into the world having completed their academic work. Once student-athletes enroll at Cal, we are fully committed to their success and fostering an environment where they can reach their full potential in the classroom and in their chosen sport. The Cameron Institute will serve as a model for other universities who want to invest in fully integrating student-athletes into the university environment and prepare them for their lives after college."

Education has played a critical role for Cameron throughout his life, and in 2015, he established the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation, a non-profit corporation striving to invest in students through a four-year undergraduate Cameron Impact Scholarship program. He earned his bachelor's degree in economics from UC Davis in 1980 and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1983. Professionally, he serves as the director of equity research at San Francisco investment firm Dodge & Cox, which manages approximately $300 billion in assets.

"It is an honor to be a part of launching the Cameron Institute at Cal, which we all hope will make a meaningful impact toward the career development of student-athletes at Cal," Cameron said. "I would like to thank Chancellor Carol Christ, Athletic Director Jim Knowlton and others in the administration who have wholeheartedly supported the institute, offered important contributions to the structure of the programs, and who are committed to implementing this vision to achieve an excellent and sustainable part of the Cal athletic department."

Cameron serves on several non-profit boards or advisory councils at the following institutions:  UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Lucile Packard Foundations for Children's Health, the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation, and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. He is also a past president of the Bear Backers with Cal Athletics and has served on the National Advisory Council for the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

"Bryan Cameron has made a transformative gift that supports the long-term success of our student-athletes and promotes their impact in the community," Chancellor Carol Christ said. "The new Cameron Institute significantly elevates our efforts to help our student-athletes fully realize their potential, and I am grateful to Bryan for his leadership and generosity."

The initial objectives for the institute will be to hire a well-qualified staff to manage the program and to create a culture of excellence by inspiring and empowering Cal student-athletes every day. In order to achieve these goals and facilitate career preparedness and opportunities, the institute will work in coordination with a number of campus partners, including the Athletic Study Center and the UC Berkeley Career Center, as well as with alumni and companies who recruit from UC Berkeley's elite student population.

Overall, the Cameron Institute captures many of the elements contained in UC Berkeley's strategic plan, which was completed in December 2018, with particular emphasis on the student experience, public service and developing leaders.

"My motivations for helping to fund the institute start with trying to meet an important need for many student-athletes, specifically an excellent support network to identify and prepare for careers after graduation from Cal," Cameron said. "Second, this institute helps fulfill the mission of the University of California, which in part is to help students pursue meaningful professional careers.

"My experience with student-athletes is that many develop some excellent foundational skills for life, including a strong work ethic, discipline, leadership, teamwork and competitiveness," he added. "But they may also lack the focus, time and opportunities to best prepare for life after their college sports' experience is completed. The institute is designed to assist these promising young men and women in identifying and pursuing career opportunities, at which they can succeed at the highest level."

The Cameron Institute is expected to be operational by the start of the 2020-21 academic year, allowing sufficient time to create specific programming and build the necessary infrastructure. The first step will be to hire an associate athletic director for student-athlete development to oversee the institute and assemble a staff through existing personnel and newly created positions.

Leadership and Personal Development

The Cameron Institute will provide instruction and training designed for students who aspire to be leaders in the workplace and the world. Programming will include such features as team captain training to enhance ways student-athletes can become better leaders with their sports teams, in their academic work and once they leave the University. Additional elements will include speaker series and leadership seminars and retreats.

Career Development

Counselors within the Cameron Institute will be charged with supporting student-athletes in exploring potential majors and career paths through coursework, practical experience and internships, helping them grow and develop holistically. They will also assist in networking with the intent to provide a world-class experience and create opportunities to connect with successful professionals in their chosen field.

Community Engagement

The Cameron Institute will encourage participation in community engagement programs, helping build student understanding of the benefits of public service and demonstrate that success can be achieved through long-term commitments. An early goal is to build a platform for every student-athlete to develop the skills and practices necessary to be a Cal ambassador for the greater community.

"The formation of the Cameron Institute made possible by Bryan Cameron's generous gift will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience at Cal," head football coach Justin Wilcox said. "We take pride in creating an environment that helps our student-athletes develop and sustain success in multiple areas of their lives, and the Cameron Institute will benefit them in their careers and communities long after their time as student-athletes. I am also incredibly excited that Cal coaches will be able to go into homes of prospective student-athletes and tell them about the Cameron Institute and how it will help their children pursue their dreams."    

The institute will be a key component of the University's upcoming comprehensive campaign with efforts to seek additional philanthropy to support the Cameron Endowment and sustain programming. The plan has already generated keen interest among alumni with a generous six-figure pledge made even before the institute's public announcement.

In order to ensure the long-lasting success of the Cameron Institute, an advisory board will aid the director of athletics with oversight of the program. The board is expected to offer assistance with outreach, best practices, goal setting, fundraising and efficient budget management.

"Cal is a special place to the many alumni and friends of the University," Cameron said. "Our own lives have been impacted by the opportunity to learn, grow and develop at the University of California. What makes us most proud is to see today's students take full advantage of the opportunities here, and the Cameron Institute is meant to invest in the student-athlete community at Cal in a way that enhances their experience at the University and contributes toward their lifetime development. It is very gratifying to witness student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and friends come together to embrace the vision of the Cameron Institute.

"As our vision becomes a reality, it is our hope that the Cameron Institute might inspire similar endeavors, both with other parts of the Cal community and at other Universities. Collectively, we can invest in the lives of college students to help create opportunities for lifetime success in their professional and personal lives."

Discussion from...

Generous Gift Allows Cal Athletics to Launch Cameron Institute

3,525 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Cal Strong!
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Many thanks to Mr. Cameron. This should really help the life after college football program and therefore recruiting...
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This is awesome.
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Good stuff. Thank you and great job to the Cameron family. Is this Coach Co's area?
Cal Strong!
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