December 8, 2020

$14 Million Gift, Partnership Lay Foundation of a New Approach to Health & Well-being Research

SUPPORTING HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES: The presentation of a $14 million check from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to CGU features (from left) San Manuel Chair Ken Ramirez, San Manuel Business Committee Member Johnny Hernandez, and CGU President Len Jessup.

The university has announced one of the largest gifts in its nearly 100-year history—$14 million—from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in San Bernardino County to purchase the Huntley Bookstore building and establish an innovative, multi-disciplinary health research center serving vulnerable populations in the Inland Empire and Indian Country.

An iconic example of mid-20th century architecture, the Huntley building will serve as the home of the Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies.

Bearing a name that means “People of the Pines” (which refers to the ancestors of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians), the center will be based on CGU’s transdisciplinary philosophy that says no single discipline or profession can solve the world’s most complex problems.

CGU President Len Jessup announced the gift in a message this week sent to the entire university community.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how a major crisis affects communities on many levels—epidemiological, clinical, policy-making, management, economic, social, psychological,” his message said. “That is why our center will serve as an innovative research hub that brings together faculty and students from all of our schools and divisions with outside partners to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”


Complex Problems Require Complex Responses

Currently, CGU scholars are conducting research on various proactive and behavioral approaches to disease prevention and designing health-driven technologies.

The center will gather these individual efforts in the 23,000 square-foot facility that has served as The Claremont Colleges’ central bookstore for 50 years and is located at the southeastern corner of the CGU campus.

The School of Community & Global Health, which currently occupies office space on Foothill Boulevard in Claremont, will serve as the building’s anchor tenant.

The center also will bring in outside partners and researchers involved with outreach programs focused on integrative health and advanced research to improve healthcare for vulnerable populations.

“Real, substantial breakthroughs happen when people from many disciplines come together and collaborate. That’s the hallmark of our transdisciplinary philosophy,” Jessup said, “and the purchase of the Huntley makes it possible to create such a space for that kind of engagement on our campus.”

THE NEW HOME OF HEALTH & WELL-BEING RESEARCH: The iconic Huntley Bookstore building located at the southeastern corner of campus now joins the CGU family.

Improving Lives in the Inland Empire & Beyond

For San Manuel, the center’s research focus won’t be on the Inland Empire alone but also extend to the L.A. Basin, which is home to the largest population of Native Americans found in an urban area of the U.S.

The tribe understands the obstacles facing many of the region’s underserved communities because of its own past economic and health-related struggles.

“In our role as stewards of our ancestral lands, we support our neighboring communities, in addition to our Tribe. For generations, low-income communities and underserved populations have needed quality healthcare. Our gift is an investment in future healthier communities and one we are happy to make,” said San Manuel Tribal Chair Ken Ramirez.

San Manuel’s partnership with CGU builds on a relationship dating to 2006 and the establishment of the university’s Tribal Administration Program. That program provides intensive training in areas of management as related to tribal governance and administration.

The Huntley building also will serve as that program’s home and the location of an envisioned tribal community governance and jurisdiction center focused on health, well-being, and other issues affecting Indian Country.

San Manuel Chair Ken Ramirez calls the $14 million gift “an investment in future healthier communities.”

Deron Marquez is a former San Manuel Chair, a CGU alumnus, and member of the university’s Board of Trustees.  He believes that the center’s work will resonate far beyond Southern California.

“The types of health and well-being research that will be tackled by the center are relevant to the needs and situations of so many today. Its benefits will ripple out,” Marquez said. “To bring together the university’s pioneering approach to research with San Manuel’s philanthropic vision is truly exciting.”