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UC San Diego Receives $6 Million Bequest from Cubic Founder and Wife

Gift from the late Betty and Walter Zable will support faculty, students and health care


  • Judy Piercey

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  • Judy Piercey

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Walter and Betty Zable. Photo courtesy of the Cubic Corp.

The University of California, San Diego today announced that the UC San Diego Foundation has received a $6.05 million bequest from the late Cubic Corporation founder Walter J. Zable and his wife, Betty C. Zable. The bequest has been allocated by the Foundation to  support endowed faculty chairs in UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management and the Jacobs School of Engineering, to create an endowed scholarship and fellowship program for all students, and provide funds for the UC San Diego Shiley Eye Center.

With their generous gift and vision, Betty and Walter Zable have created a lasting legacy for our campus,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Boosting our endowment, funding faculty chairs, supporting students and advancing health care are all outcomes of our strategic planning process that will help in UC San Diego’s mission to be a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university.”

The bequest, established by the Zables through their charitable remainder unitrust, includes:

  • $1 million, allocated by the UC San Diego Foundation to establish the Zable Endowed Chair in Management Leadership at the Rady School of Management;
  • $1 million, allocated by the UC San Diego Foundation to establish the Zable Endowed Chair in Energy Technologies at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering;
  • $100,000 for use by the UC San Diego Shiley Eye Center; and
  • The remaining $3.9 million in unrestricted funds, allocated by the UC San Diego Foundation at the Chancellor’s request to establish the endowed Zable Scholarship and Fellowship Program.

“The entire Rady School community greatly appreciates the generosity of Walter J. and Betty Zable,” added Robert Sullivan, dean of UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management.  “The Zable family has been great supporters of the San Diego community, and especially of UC San Diego. This endowed chair will enable the Rady School to attract the very best faculty—especially those who excel at innovation and technology management, which were topics of great interest to Walter J. Zable.”

Walter J. Zable, who died in June 2012 at the age of 97, founded San Diego-based Cubic Corporation in 1951 and served until his death as chief executive, chairman and president of the public corporation that provides military defense equipment and automated fare collection equipment. The passing of Cubic’s founder received widespread coverage in both national and local media. “Legendary,” “an innovator” and “a hard charger” were a few of the words used to describe Mr. Zable. The New York Timessaid he “built Cubic from a tiny storefront in San Diego into one of the most successful entities in military and transportation systems in the United States.” He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, in 2007.

“I am extremely grateful to the Zables for their gift, which allowed UC San Diego to establish this new endowed chair in energy technologies. Energy and environment are two of the many important world problems that the Jacobs School can help solve,” said Albert P. Pisano, the incoming dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering. Pisano will hold the Walter J. Zable Chair in Engineering, which was established in 1993 as an endowed chair to be held by the engineering dean at UC San Diego. “For many years, Walter Zable provided crucial leadership and support that helped the Jacobs School grow and thrive. As I begin my new role as dean of the Jacobs School, I look forward to deepening our relationship with Cubic, the dynamic company that Zable built and one of the Jacobs School’s key corporate partners.”

Since 1966, Betty and Walter Zable have been loyal donors to the campus, giving $7.2 million in support of a variety of areas and initiatives for UC San Diego’s general campus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Health Sciences. Longtime philanthropists, the couple also supported the Zoological Society of San Diego and the College of William & Mary, among other organizations.

The Zable bequest is being used by the campus to create two endowed faculty chairs, which are important tools for recruiting and retaining faculty. Although state funds provide basic faculty salaries, permanent endowed funds created by philanthropic gifts support chair-holders’ teaching and research. Undergraduate and graduate students will be supported by unrestricted funds included in the bequest, used to create an endowment. Unrestricted gifts offer flexible funds that help UC San Diego meet its highest priority needs, respond quickly to emerging opportunities and invest in areas of the highest potential.

For more information about supporting UC San Diego through long-term estate or financial plans, please visit

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