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Pauline Foster, Generous Community Philanthropist and UC San Diego Supporter, Dies


  • Jade Griffin

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  • Jade Griffin

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Pauline Foster

Pauline Foster, community philanthropist and longtime supporter of the University of California San Diego, died on Saturday, July 30. Foster was 82.

For more than three decades, Foster has supported UC San Diego with her time, vision and resources. She made a significant impact on the campus through philanthropic support, including a $7.5 million gift in 2014 to establish the Pauline and Stanley Foster Pavilion for Cancer Care at Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health, with the goal of ensuring fellow San Diegans received excellent cancer care. She donated $5 million to establish the Stanley and Pauline Foster Endowed Chair, in honor of her late husband, at the UC San Diego Rady School of Management. She also provided fellowship support for graduate students with a lead gift to the “Invent the Future” campaign, and established the Foster MBA Fellowship Fund with a $2.5 million gift.

In addition to serving as president of Foster Investment Corporation, Foster dedicated countless hours to the university as a member of various campus boards and committees through the years. Most notably, she served as trustee and board chair of the UC San Diego Foundation from 2002 through 2010. She received the Chancellor’s Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed by UC San Diego to honor exceptional service in support of the university’s mission, in 2010.

“Pauline Foster will be tremendously missed. Her extraordinary leadership, service and philanthropy in our community and on our campus created a better future for so many people,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “From her support of student scholarships, to the recent naming of the Pauline and Stanley Foster Pavilion for Cancer Care, the Foster family legacy will live on at UC San Diego and benefit our fellow citizens for generations to come. I am personally grateful that I have had the opportunity to know her and be the beneficiary of her wisdom and support. Pauline’s kind, caring and generous spirit has touched institutions and people in San Diego. We will forever cherish the generosity of the Foster family.”

Foster’s support of the university began in 1994 when she was asked to serve on the advisory committee to endow The Katzin Chair of Jewish Civilization at UC San Diego. From that time on, she remained involved with the campus.

In addition to her gift to the Jacobs Medical Center, Foster, with her family, also added enormous depth to other UC San Diego Health programs, including the Shiley Eye Institute. She helped support the Anne F. and Abraham Ratner Children’s Eye Center, which was initially established by her mother, Anne Ratner.

“Pauline Foster had a passion for helping others through health care, ensuring that every patient, of every age, had the best possible care,” said David Brenner, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC San Diego. “Her transformational impact has been felt in San Diego and well beyond. Her legacy will continue to make a difference for many patients with cancer long into the future.”

Also of special significance to Foster was her support of the Rady School of Management. In honor of her husband, Stanley Foster, she funded the Stanley and Pauline Foster Endowed Chair. Stanley Foster was a respected leader in the San Diego business community and an early visionary in the redevelopment of downtown San Diego. Pauline Foster also supported fellowships for graduate students at the Rady School. In recognition of her founding role and unwavering support of the Rady School, Foster was awarded the Rady School’s Founders’ Medal in June 2016.

“Pauline Foster will always be remembered as a Founder of the Rady School,” said Robert S. Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management. “Additionally, she was an inspiration and an enabler of scores of Rady students who held Foster Fellowships—these students were her pride and joy. I know that Pauline's community impact will be continuously realized and celebrated in the many future generations of Foster Fellows who will positively transform their communities and the world. Her inspiration, advocacy and impact on the Rady School are indelible.”

Foster once said of her philanthropy: “I support the university because of the huge impact it has had on the growth of San Diego. I think the university has given residents so many opportunities.”

A San Diego native, Foster was strongly invested in the community. She served as board chair of the Jewish Community Foundation and was actively involved with the United Jewish Federation of San Diego, the United Way and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where she served as board chair. She served as a trustee of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute until her death. Foster was declared “Woman of the Year” by the State of California Legislature in 1989 and was given the United Way’s Alexis De Tocqueville Award in 1998, to honor her extraordinary leadership and service in the community.

During an interview in 2014, Foster called sharing with others gratifying. “I’m so grateful I can do it, and to know that the future will be better because of this.”

Foster is survived by her daughters, Lisa Foster (Alan Bersin); Marcia Hazan (Mark Cammell); and Karen Foster Silberman (Jeff Silberman). Grandchildren include Shana, Samuel, Alissa, Madeleine, Amalia, Max, Harry, Laurel and Alena, as well as great-grandchildren, Sloane, Joey and Owen.

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