UCR Medallion Goes to Henry Coil at Chancellor’s Dinner

Annual scholarship celebration presents outstanding alumni awards to Byron Pollitt, Mary Figueroa and Michael Nduati

UCR Medallion recipient Henry Coil Jr., left and Chancellor Kim Wilcox, right, pose before the Chancellor’s Dinner with their wives Linda Coil, left, and Diane Del Buono. Photo by Carlos Puma

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — More than 250 people turned out for UC Riverside’s Chancellor’s Dinner Saturday, Oct. 17, to build scholarship opportunities for students and recognize distinguished alumni and supporters of the campus and community.

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox presented the UCR Medallion to longtime community philanthropist and arts benefactor Henry W. Coil Jr., who bequeathed $900,000 to UCR’s Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts in 2012, one of the largest gifts UCR has received to support arts programs.

“Henry is one of those rare individuals who brings light to a room, but over his career has brought light to the entire Inland Empire,” Wilcox said about Coil, past president of Tilden-Coil Constructors Inc., and a founding director of UCR’s California Museum of Photography.

During the presentation, Wilcox also made the first public introduction of Coil and his wife, Linda, since the couple were married just a few hours earlier that day.

Coil earned his engineering degree at UC Berkeley and a law degree from Western State University of Fullerton. He joined the construction firm Marshall Tilden in 1971, and as a contractor helped build much of the infrastructure of greater Riverside, including medical facilities, schools, office buildings and publishing facilities.

2015 Chancellor Dinner Award Recipients

Award recipients of the 2015 Chancellor’s Dinner stand with the Chancellor near the UCR Sign.

But at the same time, Coil also fed his personal interests in architecture, photography and education through substantial gifts of money and time to many community organizations, including stints as a Riverside city councilman and member of the Community Foundation, American Red Cross, Riverside Arts Foundation, the Boy Scouts, the Mission Inn Foundation and the UCR Foundation.

“I like doing things that are meaningful and I like leading by example,” Coil said in a tribute video shown during the dinner. “My intent wasn’t to collect awards, but if it helps get others to give also, it’s even a bigger benefit.”

“He really is just sort of a pillar of the community, said Roger Ransom, a distinguished professor emeritus of history at UCR. “You can just go down a list and he’s just had his finger in so many things, not only involved with the university but with the community as a whole.”

UCR also presented the recipients of its 2015 Alumni Awards of Distinction Saturday night, the 29th year the awards have been given.

Byron Pollitt Jr. ’73
Distinguished Alumnus Award

Byron Pollitt says his time at UCR has provided the foundation for the rest of his life, starting with the day his future wife sat down beside him during a sociology class in Watkins 1000. The couple just celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary this summer, Pollitt says. “I will never forget that auditorium.”

Pollitt earned his bachelor of science degree in business economics in 1973, and then went to Harvard Business School to complete his master of business administration. His professional career has included senior positions at Sotheby’s, The Walt Disney Co., Gap Inc. and Visa, where he has been the chief financial officer since 2007 and oversaw the merger of six companies into Visa Inc., the largest IPO in the history of the United States. He’s been featured in many national publications for his business acumen, and was chosen as a member of Fortune magazine’s Third Annual Fantasy Executive League —  as the dream team’s CFO.

“Byron has had an amazing career,” said Timothy R. Greenleaf ’78, managing director of Fairmont Capital, in Pollitt’s tribute video.  “He is a true Eagle Scout. He is trustworthy, loyal, kind, friendly, cheerful … He’s always doing the right thing, even when somebody’s not looking,”

2015 Chancellor Dinner Byron Pollit

Byron Pollitt (’73) sits with his wife, Teresa, near the Scotty Statue during the 2015 Chancellor’s Dinner.

As a philanthropist, Pollitt’s passion has been helping people in crisis through the American Red Cross, sitting on the organization’s Bay Area board of directors.But he’s never forgotten his undergraduate alma mater, regularly advising School of Administration deans on program offerings, accepting invitations to speak on campus, including the 2005 commencement, and contributing to the UCR fund nearly every year since he graduated, according to SoBA Dean Yunzeng Wang.

“Byron was personally responsible for a very positive impact on the American Red Cross and their ability to support people in need during disasters,” said UCR Foundation Trustee Susan Atherton ”77, the former chair of the Bay Area American Red Cross board of directors.   “He is a tremendous reflection of what the school offers its students and how you can apply what is offered to you, as a student at UCR, to your life.”

Mary Figueroa ’79
Alumni Service Award

Community activist Mary Figueroa was raised by a single mom, Cruz Moreno, in Riverside’s Eastside and was one of the first in her neighborhood to attend a four-year university. She says the people who supported her quest for a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies and political science helped fuel her lifelong commitment to helping others.

Figueroa worked 21 years as a counselor for the California Department of Corrections but she’s also served on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees since 1995, and on the boards of many other community organizations, including the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center, City of Riverside Human Relations Commission, Eastside Social Services Center Advisory Board, Action Before Crisis Committee, Riverside Youth Development Council, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the State of California Attorney General’s Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes and the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council.

2015 Chancellor Dinner Mary Figueroa

Mary Figueroa (’79) with Chancellor Kim Wilcox at the Chancellor’s Dinner.

Figueroa sat on the search committee for the new dean of UCR’s Graduate School of Education and the dean of University Extension, is a member of the School of Medicine Community Advisory Board and helped develop Latino Health Riverside. She has also earned multiple awards and accolades for her service.

“For over 35 years, Mary Figueroa has served as an irreplaceable leader in our region,” Congressman Mark Takano (D-Riverside) said, when he invited Figueroa to be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address in 2013. “Through her countless roles in the community, Mary has proven time and time again her dedication towards the fight for justice and equality, which truly embodies the American spirit.”

Dr. Michael N. Nduati ’01
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Dr. Michael Nduati has been breathtakingly busy in the 14 years since he earned his biomedical sciences degree from UCR, and most of his many accomplishments have directly benefited the School of Medicine, where he is now associate dean for clinical affairs.

Nduati is a native of the Inland Empire — born in Fontana and raised in Upland — who achieved his medical degree through the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences, the precursor to UCR’s full, four-year medical school. In 2004, when he completed his final two years of medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, he also completed an M.B.A. at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in the join M.D.-M.B.A. program. He returned to the Inland Empire to do his residency in family medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center, and then completed a master’s degree in public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. He returned to the region to serve as a nocturnist physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center until he joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2012.

2015 Chancellor Dinner Michael Nduati

Michael Nduati (’01) receives the Outstanding Young Alumnus award.

His breakneck pace hasn’t stopped since he joined UCR. As director of the Longitudinal Ambulatory Care Experience (LACE), he recruited 17 separate clinical sites in Riverside and San Bernardino counties for medical students to work with physician mentors in a real clinical setting. He also helped start the UCR Health Hospitalist Service at Riverside Community Hospital, recruiting four internal medicine physicians to join the School of Medicine faculty and launching a joint internal medicine-family medicine hospitalist program with eight physicians who provide 24-7 hospital service to the unassigned patients at the hospital.

He also developed the Healthcare Management and Policy Journal Club to help students stay current on the latest health policy research, established a credit-bearing course for undergraduates called “Undergraduate Student Run Health Clinic” and initiated the Longitudinal Educational Alzheimer’s and Dementia Experience for Riverside Students (LEADERS). He is a member of the James W. Vines Jr. Medical Society and Foundation, serving as the organization’s liaison to UCR’s African Americans United in Science organization and director of the Elma Vines Summer Health Academy and is the mentor physician for the UCR Student Run Health Clinic, which operates a twice-monthly free clinic for Riverside’s homeless and uninsured population.

I’m an Inland Empire product and I love my community,” Nduati said in his tribute video. “I wanted to give back to this community and I’m very proud to be part of this medical school. I just love teaching and interacting with younger learners and I also feel like I’m giving back. I didn’t really realize that until I was here at UC Riverside School of Medicine, but now that I’m here, I know that’s what I’m meant to do.”

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