2020 Donor Appreciation

We are proud to recognize new members to our Lifetime Giving Society as well as those who are moving up on our donor wall with their continued contributions. We also welcome new members to our Legacy Society which consists of donors who have included CSUMB in a planned gift.

Mountain Society

This Giving Society recognizes those donors who have achieved a lifetime donation between $25,000 and $100,000.

Merrill Farms, LLC./ Ross and Lauren Merrill

Originally founded in 1933 as Merrill Packing Company by T.R. Merrill, in the 1950s Merrill Farms grew so large it became essential to split into two separate entities: Merrill Farms for the farming of produce and Merrill Packing, responsible for the cooling and packaging of crops.

In the 1960’s, the mantel was passed to T.R.’son (Tom) and wife (Wilma). And continued to grow and prosper. In 1990s, Merrill Farms Inc. departed from the crop production market with Ross Merrill becoming President/CEO and founding Merrill Farms LLC, focused on growing exclusively. Most recently, Allan Clark was named President/COO, with Ross and Lauren’s son, Jonathan – the fourth generation of Merrill’s to join the operation. Both Jonathan and his brother Thomas attended CSUMB. Merrill Farms continues to pursue company growth, maintain reputable practices, and embrace new technologies in order to provide the highest quality produce.

Ross became familiar with the College of Science in 2017 when he visited the video game design lab in the Gambord Business and Information Technology building. Equipment in the lab had been funded by the Sally Hughes Church Foundation, of which Ross was a member of the Board of Directors.

Subsequently, Ross joined (and later became Chair) of the College of Science Dean’s Leadership Advisory Council and last year, Merrill Farms and Lauren and Ross Merrill funded the Merrill Farms scholarship, a full tuition scholarship supporting a student interested in agriculture in the College of Science.

Hospice Giving Foundation

Since 1997, Hospice Giving Foundation has proudly awarded over $25 million in grants to regional programs dedicated to strengthening and improving hospice and palliative care, and other end-of-life care services, for children and adults. This past year we were honored to receive our first grant from the Hospice Giving Foundation to fully fund a feasibility study to plan how best to offer palliative care education in Monterey County to strengthen the capability of healthcare providers delivering high quality, linguistically and culturally appropriate care to people with serious illness and their families. The interdisciplinary team includes Alyssa Erikson, RN, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Nursing, Vanessa Littleton-Lopez, RN, MPA, PhD and Associate Professor in the Health, Human Services and Public Policy Department; Alisha Mann, MPH; Colleen Beye, MPA; and Wendell Harry, MD a palliative care physician at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and Natividad Medical Center. The team came together from a shared desire to expand palliative care services in the Central Coast region.

Anthropocene Institute, LLC

The Anthropocene Institute develops partnerships between entrepreneurs, institutions, and investors. Their mission is to develop technologies, advocate policies, and mobilize financing to address the world's energy and resource challenges through leadership and investment.

The Institute supports research and development of new technologies that have the potential to improve the health and sustainability of the ocean on a broad scale through technological advances that lower costs, and make ocean health data available for general use through open data platforms. It serves as an incubator for technologies, policies, and market mechanisms to address global environmental challenges.

Co-Founded by Barbara Page, who has a passion for saving the world’s oceans and seeks to work with like-minded individuals who want to secure the future of the oceans.

Creative Work Fund - Walter & Elise Haas Fund

The Creative Work Fund supports artists and nonprofits in creating new art works through collaboration. It celebrates the role of artist as problems solvers, and art-making as a profound contribution to the strengthening of communities. We are excited Angelica Muro, Associate Professor in the Visual and Public Art Department received this grant to foster the collaboration with artist Binh Danh to create I Am Chinatown Salinas/Yo Soy Chinatown Salinas, a participatory project to document Chinatown in Salinas from social, cultural, and anthropological perspectives. Separately, Dionicio Mendoza, Assistant Professor in the Visual and Public Art Department was also awarded a Creative Work Fund grant as lead artists with Villa Montalvo Arts Center for the collaboration titled Creando Espacio/Place Making: Immigration, Rituals, and Transformation. We thank the Creative Work Fund for supporting two CSU Monterey Bay faculty recipients of the 2019 Creative Work Fund in the Visual Arts.

Sturdy Oil Company/ Jon and Kittie Fanoe

Over eight decades ago, two farmers started a fuel distribution company in the Salinas Valley. They established an enduring tradition of integrity and dependable customer service. The successful family-owned business eventually added locations in several Northern California cities. Today, Sturdy Oil Company continues to offer a range of quality products and services at economical prices. Henry and Anker Fanoe opened Gilmore Fuels in 1933. They quickly expanded the business by purchasing Sturdy Oil, a distributor named after local businessman Gene Sturdivant.

In 1960, Neil Fanoe Sr. retired from farming and started working as Sturdy Oil’s second president. He skillfully managed the business for about 35 years, and it eventually became a full-line Exxon distributor. The family still owns and operates Sturdy Oil; founder Henry Fanoe was the current president’s grandfather. Jon Fanoe began leading the company in 1995.

Family ownership ensures that Sturdy Oil upholds proud traditions while embracing new technology. Sturdy Oil supplies an assortment of petroleum products to farms, gas stations and industrial facilities. In addition to automotive and cooking fuels, they deliver various greases, industrial lubricants, engine fluids and solvents, and install petroleum storage tanks as well.

Kelly O'Brien and Martha Watson/Kuumba Associates, LLC

We are grateful for honor Kelly O’Brien, Martha Watson, and the Kuumba Associates for their commitment to the College of Business and the success of CSUMB students. Kelly and Martha’s energy and passion for students and higher education in general sets them apart as major champions for the mission of the College of Business in educating responsible business leaders of tomorrow. We thank Kelly for carving time in her life to engage and inspire students through her leadership on the College of Business Advisory Council, the Mentor Leadership Program, Diamond Key Program workshops, and her student success contributions as an Executive-In-Residence lecturing, mentoring and advising students.

Janet Tague

Janet Tague has been supporting CSUMB since she moved to the area. She has focused her giving with the Women's Leadership Council, first with a named scholarship for three consecutive years, and recently with major funding for emergency awards and sponsorship of the annual fundraiser. In addition to her philanthropy, CSUMB is grateful to Janet for her service on the Women's Leadership Council's advisory committee. Please join me in welcoming Janet to the Mountain Society.

David  and Denise Coté

We celebrate the difference that David and Denise Coté have made through a generous gift to the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in the Monterey Bay region. We especially thank David for sharing his expertise and leadership through participation on the College of Business Advisory Council, Mentor Leadership Program, iiED program judge, and his dedication as chair of the Entrepreneurship Fund Committee assisting to raise funds to support tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. David is one of those special individuals who cares deeply about helping youth develop their entrepreneurship spirt and walks the walk with his time, talent, and resources.

San Benito Health Foundation

The mission of San Benito Health Foundation is to provide quality, affordable comprehensive health services to the community of San Benito County and surrounding areas in a manner that is accountable to the community while being respectful, empathetic, and culturally-sensitive to our patients. This year we are especially grateful for San Benito Health Foundation’s tremendous support of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services Diversity Celebration Series and most importantly the first Master of Science Physician Assistant (MSPA) White Coat Ceremony. With their support we can count many of our own among the healthcare heroes on the frontlines battling the COVID-19 pandemic as most of our MSPA students signed up across the country to serve in the hospital volunteer corps.

James C. Raines

James C. Raines, Ph.D., calls himself an accidental academic with the heart of a practitioner. Jim has supported a variety of areas of CSUMB that ultimately influenced him to establish a scholarship endowment in memory of his grandfather, Louis Siebermorgen, that leaves a legacy of support within the department of Collaborative Health and Human Services. The purpose of the scholarship is to assist Collaborative Health and Human Services students who were foster children and/or children of first generation immigrants to achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their communities.

Jim was the Department Chair of Health, Human Services and Public Policy at California State University Monterey Bay from 2010 - 2016. Additionally, he was Chair of the Senate Curriculum Committee Council from 2013-2017. He has also served as the interim MSW program director and wrote the self-study for MSW initial accreditation in 2014. As one can see, Jim has immersed himself in CSUMB academically, financially and, especially, support of students.

Natividad Medical Foundation

Natividad Foundation brings people together to strengthen Natividad and create a healthier community. The launch of the College of Health Science and Human Services Diversity Celebration Series and the Master of Science Physician Assistant program was made possible thanks to generous partnerships like the one with Natividad Medical Foundation. We are very proud to collaborate with Natividad Medical Center and have our Physician Assistants help designing alternative care facilities and fill the gaps where help is so desperately needed during this Covid-19 Pandemic. We are exceedingly grateful for the support Natividad Medical Center and Natividad Medical Foundation has provided our students for close to 20 years!

Christina F. Herzig

Christina Herzig, a CSUMB Liberal Studies alumna, established the Karen Lynn Rezavy Capstone award six years ago to recognize and support students graduating in the Liberal Studies department. Christina has been committed to supporting students becoming teachers, a big demand in the Tri-County service area. With recent changes, Christina has amended her support to now become a scholarship for those students who will graduate in Liberal Studies and continue their teaching certification education exclusively at CSUMB. Additionally, Christina has encouraged those she knows to also contribute to this fund as she recognizes the significant need of top-level teachers in the Tri-County service area.

Ocean Society

The Ocean Society recognizes donors who have given lifetime gifts between $100,000 and $500,000.

Ocean Mist Farms

For more than 90 years, Ocean Mist Farms has remained a family-farming operation with a singular focus on growing California’s finest vegetables. We are honored to have the generous support from Mr. Joe Pezinni and Ocean Mist Farms this year investing in the Agribusiness Supply Chain Management Endowed Professorship initiative in the College of Business. Their commitment to higher education will help train talented graduates linking our University to the needs of the agricultural community.

Richard and Joan Otomo-Corgel

Rich and Joan are the proud parents of former Otter Women's Basketball player Stefanie Corgel, a Kinesiology graduate. While Stef played for the Otters, Rich and Joan supported the Otter Women's Basketball program through philanthropic gifts, as well as hosting team meals at their home when the Otters played in Southern California. Following Stefanie's graduation, the Corgels remained in contact with CSUMB Athletics and Athletic Director Kirby Garry that ultimately led to them contributing towards the creation of a scholarship to support academic scholarships for CSUMB student-athletes that have demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and have financial need. In addition, they also have financially supported the Kinesiology department.

Prof. Richard Bains and Dr. Amalia Mesa-Bains

Amalia and Richard are founding faculty members at CSUMB. Richard joined CSUMB as the founding chair of the Music and Performing Arts department, and Amalia joined him a year later as faculty in the Visual and Public Art department, where she would soon serve as chair. They established and have been funding an endowment for students to enhance their artistic studies at CSUMB through the purchase of instruments, supplies, equipment, reference materials, and private lessons. Recently they named their endowment as a beneficiary in their estate plans. Please join me in welcoming Amalia and Richard to the Ocean and Legacy Society.


Since 1980, CHISPA, the Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, has built and renovated over 2,200 single-family homes and apartments for low- and moderate-income people in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties. Their mission is to improve people's lives and create healthy neighborhoods by developing, selling, owning and managing affordable homes. In 2005, they collaborated with CSUMB to create a scholarship endowment that would support CSUMB students who reside in housing they developed and managed. Since that time they have contributed steadily to this endowment increasing educational access for those they serve and making their academic aspirations a reality. We would like to thank CHISPA for supporting our university and our students as we welcome them into the Ocean Society.

Chevron Corporation

Chevron’s support of CSUMB programs and students stems from their commitment to educating students and preparing them for the challenges of tomorrow. Chevron has been supporting CSUMB since 2008 in STEM projects including funding student research in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Center. We are excited for our many collaborations with Chevron and we send a special thank you to Andrea Bailey for her dedication to Monterey County and especially the Otter Community!

Hearst Foundation

The Hearst Foundation funds educational institutions demonstrating uncommon success in preparing students to thrive in a global society. This year we were extremely honored to work with Mr. Joe Heston at KSBW-TV and the Hearst Foundation in supporting the Teacher Pathway Program a regional and collaborative effort between Hartnell College, Monterey Peninsula College, and Cabrillo College giving local students the opportunity to become teachers locally.

Valley Society

The Valley Society recognizes donors who have given lifetime gifts between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

Montage Health

Montage Health Foundation priorities include improving the health of the entire local community. Our most recent support from the Montage Health Foundation for the new Master of Science Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program at CSUMB helps us with the goal of creating a pipeline of local applicants into the MSPA program. We thank Dr. Packer for the advice, encouragement, and support needed to build the MSPA program, which will increase the health care workforce needed in our community.

Claire Giannini Fund

In 2015, the Claire Giannini Fund believed in the innovative and transformative collaboration between CSU Monterey Bay and Hartnell College to start the Teacher Pathway program, preparing students to make a significant and lasting impact on the quality of education. The Claire Giannini Fund has been a supporter of the Teacher Pathway Program inspiring local students to fill a need and become teachers and mentors providing life changing opportunities for underrepresented students from South Monterey County and Salinas. CSUMB and the College of Education are most grateful to the Claire Giannini Fund for the support and investment made in this transformative program. We are honored to welcome the Claire Giannini Fund into the Valley Society.

River Society

The River Society recognizes donors who have given lifetime gifts over $10,000,000.

Robert Darwin

Longtime Monterey Peninsula resident, Robert Darwin, has committed to a legacy gift for student scholarships to our university. The largest gift in the history of the 25-year-old university, Bob’s generosity will provide necessary scholarships for talented and gifted students from low-income and impoverished families with the greatest financial need.

We are extremely grateful for this extraordinary gift. The bulk of this endowment will provide over $1 million annually for student scholarships. It will provide the financial assistance the majority of our students require to complete their academic studies, graduate and participate in our community as astute global citizens. President Ochoa has enjoyed getting to know Bob personally and considers him a good friend.