Oracle Chairman Gives $50 Million to UC Santa Barbara Amid Cuts

Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley and His Wife Judy
An undated handout photo of Oracle Inc. Chairman Jeff Henley and his wife Judy.

Oracle Corp. Chairman Jeff Henley is giving $50 million to the University of California, Santa Barbara -- the largest donation in the school’s history -- to promote scientific research and help overcome budget cuts.

Henley’s donation to his alma mater will go toward the engineering college and the school’s Institute for Energy Efficiency, which conducts research in areas such as batteries, lighting and computer data centers, the university said late yesterday in a statement. The gift is also in the name of Henley’s wife, Judy.

The funds will help pay for a new building to house the institute and for hiring and retaining faculty members amid deep budget cuts to the University of California system. The 10 schools, which include campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego, have turned to more private fundraising as state budget cuts have sliced funding. The UC system’s budget was cut by $850 million last year alone, said Dianne Klein, a UC spokeswoman.

“The UC system is one of the crown jewels left in California -- it’s a huge economic powerhouse for the state,” Henley said in a telephone interview. “Donors need to keep stepping up like they do in private schools.”

Henley, 67, joined Oracle in 1991 and has been chairman of the company co-founded by Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison since 2004. A resident of Santa Barbara, Henley graduated from the university in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and has an MBA from UCLA.

Better Labs Needed

UC Santa Barbara has raised $718 million since 2004 from private donors as it pushes toward a $1 billion fundraising campaign goal, said Shelly Leachman, a university spokeswoman.

A decade ago, state funds made up 46 percent of the school’s annual budget; today it’s half that, UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang said in an e-mail.

“Private giving plays a critical role,” he said.

Henley said he hopes his donation spurs other university benefactors to increase their giving as the school’s materials science and engineering disciplines rise in quality.

“We need better world-class labs for science and engineering” to help the U.S. compete with other nations in areas like energy efficiency, he said. “The state’s not in a position to do it.”

The Henleys have previously donated more than $5 million to UC Santa Barbara, which fronts the Pacific Ocean about 105 miles northwest of Los Angeles. An economics chair and a gate at the entrance of the campus are named for him, and he has endowed the engineering college and athletics programs.

The new donation will fund $25 million of construction for Henley Hall, a building that will house the Energy Efficiency institute. The university will need to raise another $25 million to complete the facility, Leachman said.

Five million dollars from the gift will pay for faculty salaries and lab equipment. The remaining $20 million will be bequeathed upon their deaths, Henley said.

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