Making UC San Diego a Family Affair

Curtis AbbottMany UC San Diego alumni remember the campus in the same way that Curtis Abbott does: up on a hill surrounded by eucalyptus. Abbott was an undergraduate in the 1970s, when the Golden Triangle was little more than airspace for Miramar jets and the nearest signs of life were down in La Jolla.

He obviously has good memories because his daughter, Julie, also chose UC San Diego, graduating in 2005 with a degree in Linguistics before launching a career in speech therapy. Curtis majored in Music, and was close to graduation when he was introduced to computer music. "UCSD was one of the first to offer it," he remembers, so he signed on for a second, related major in Math. In those days huge mainframes evolved into smaller computers and Abbott was hired after graduation to assist Professor Harold Cohen, now Emeritus, in building the "turtle," a small robot to create computerized art. It now resides at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

Abbott, a tech business consultant and entrepreneur in the Bay Area, stays connected to UC San Diego through Chancellor's Associates. Although he and his wife Maryvonne visit San Diego infrequently, they feel that UC San Diego is worthy of their support, and they believe in unrestricted gifts. "It's appropriate for donors of large gifts to decide how their donation is used," he says, "and it's important for the Chancellor to have unrestricted funds." Abbott and his wife are also members of UC San Diego's York Society, "because UCSD is part of our estate planning, too."