Major gifts announced at Alumni Hall of Fame dinner

Three gifts totaling more than $1.5 million were announced Friday at the Alumni Hall of Fame dinner, which concluded a week of activities celebrating the investiture of President Leslie E. Wong. 

More than 350 alumni and friends of the University gathered at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in the landmark Merchants Exchange building in downtown San Francisco for a gala dinner honoring four new inductees. 

 President Wong, alumni donor Judy Marcus, and Phyllis Wong, at the presidential investiture dinner.

From left: President Wong, honoree Judy Marcus, Phyllis Wong and alum George Marcus, at the Alumni Hall of Fame dinner. Photo credit: Lisa Sze.

John Gumas, chair of the San Francisco State University Foundation, announced donations from friends and alumni in honor of President Wong, including a transformative gift from long-time friend of the University Laurie Pitman and two gifts from alumna Pam Fong -- $100,000 to the Wong Endowed Scholarship and $25,000 to the Department of Biology.

A successful entrepreneur, Pitman, who dedicated the generous gift to President Wong and his wife Phyllis, is a long-time supporter of the Department of History, having co-funded the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Endowed Chair in History, among other programs on campus.




Oscar nominee, Lisa Cholodenko speaks during the presidential investiture.

Oscar nominee and inductee Lisa Cholodenko speaks during the Alumni Hall of Fame dinner. Photo credit: Lisa Sze.

Robert J. Nava, vice president of University Advancement, noted the tradition for alumni and friends to make significant donations to demonstrate their belief in an institution and its new leadership and to encourage others to make similar commitments.

“President Wong leads by example,” said Nava, referencing the endowed student scholarship that he and his wife established in their name as part of the Students First Campaign, a $12 million initiative.  Several individuals, including Pam Fong, have donated generously to the Wong scholarship fund, which to date has reached more than $471,000 of its $500,000 goal.

At the event, award-winning director Lisa Cholodenko, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Al Martinez, deaf theatre artist Bernard Bragg and civic leader/philanthropist Judy Marcus were inducted into SF State's Alumni Hall of Fame




 President Wong, and his wife, Phyllis Wong, and Bernard Bragg.

From left: President Wong, Phyllis Wong and inductee Bernard Bragg. Photo credit: Gino DeGrandis.

The San Francisco State University Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes alumni who have earned the respect of their peers through professional, cultural and civic achievements. Among the previous inductees are sailing champion Paul Cayard, Pulitzer prize-winning poet Philip Schultz, actor Jeffrey Tambor, astronaut Yvonne Cagle, actress Annette Bening and "Frasier" co-creator and executive producer Peter Casey.

For more about investiture, visit http://presidentialinvestiture.sfsu.eduTo see all photos from Investiture Week events, visit

--Nan Broadbent