Lecture room at UcSD
Students at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego. Courtesy UCSD

Irwin and Joan Jacobs have committed to provide a $14 million endowed gift to UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, the university announced Friday.

The gift is intended to support the school’s Center on Global Transformation, as it drives inquiry on how global economic and political structures are changing and how advances in science and technology improve policy and alter the distribution of wealth around the world.

In recognition of the gift and at the request of the donors, the center will be renamed to the Peter F. Cowhey Center for Global Transformation. Cowhey has served as dean of the School of Global Policy and Strategy for nearly two decades. On June 30, he will retire to become professor emeritus.

The gift will also support the center’s efforts to develop and maintain a network of global leaders through its signature Pacific Leadership Fellows program.

“From engineering to the arts, medicine to public policy, no corner of campus has been untouched by their enduring generosity,” Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said of Irwin and Joan Jacobs. “Their most recent transformative gift will deepen the impact of the School of Global Policy and Strategy’s efforts to address challenges that arise from economic and technological change.”

Cowhey’s leadership led to the creation of the CGT and its Pacific Leadership Fellows program, which brings leaders from throughout the globe to the campus to exchange ideas about the pressing issues of the 21st century.

The Pacific Leadership Fellows program has hosted more than 100 fellows from 24 different countries.

Recent Pacific Leadership fellows include Yoriko Kawaguchi, former minister for foreign affairs and minister of the environment of Japan; Gregory Lee, global president of Nokia Technologies; Enrico Letta, former prime minister of Italy, and Nirupama Rao, former Indian ambassador to the United States.

“Joan and I are very proud of the Center on Global Transformation’s accomplishments addressing questions of science, technology and the global economy through scholarship and policy analysis,” Irwin Jacobs said. “With Dean Cowhey’s innovative leadership, the center and School of Global Policy and Strategy have developed and maintained a network of leaders that will shape public policy over the coming decades.”

Jacobs is a billionaire former electrical engineer, co-founder and former chairman of Qualcomm and chair of the board of trustees of the Salk Institute. He is the grandfather of Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-San Diego.

“This remarkable gift will allow the center to make new discoveries on how technological innovation shapes economies and societies around the world,” Cowhey said. “It will also support our recruiting efforts for the next wave of Pacific Leadership Fellows to bring leaders of thought and action from around the globe to engage in depth with our school and the broader San Diego region.”

The CGT is under the leadership of Joshua Graff Zivin, an economist whose research interests include the environment, health, development and innovation economics.

Graff Zivin added that the Jacobs’ support will bring the Pacific Leadership Fellows program to new heights.

“The program brings together dynamic thought leaders who shape strategy in their own countries through government, the private sector and academia for an extended visit to San Diego where they provide valuable insights about the urgent challenges confronting the world,” he said. “They often work on projects that form the basis for policy dialogues with UC San Diego scholars.”

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