Irving Tragen: Life Full Circle

Irving Tragen

Irving Tragen

A distinguished diplomat and Latin American expert, Irving Tragen has traveled the world—but UC San Diego is where he's chosen to make a lasting difference. In addition to annual gifts, where he sees the immediate impact of his generosity, Irving has made a bequest to support UC San Diego in the future. The university will also benefit from a number of Irving's charitable gift annuities. To Irving, it makes perfect sense that the long and varied road he has traveled over the course of a 55-year career should lead to UC San Diego.

A California native, Irving received both his bachelor's and law degrees from UC Berkeley. Along the way, he met his beloved wife, Ele, at the International House on campus. The couple married in 1947 and immediately embarked on the first leg of what would become a lifelong journey to serve the forgotten populations of Mexico, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Guatemala, and the Caribbean. Recently, Irving was honored as the Global Ambassador of Peace and Public Service for 2018. The ceremony took place at the International House where he had met Ele, bringing his story full circle.

After decades of foreign travel and postings with Irving's work as a Foreign Service officer, Irving and Ele retired to La Jolla. One of their first experiences with the UC San Diego Health System was with the Shiley Eye Institute, where they both received treatment. The Tragens were pleased with the cutting-edge care they received at the only academic eye center in the region.

The Tragens also fell in love with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the oldest, largest, and most respected centers in the world for ocean, earth, and atmospheric science research and education.

Ele is gone now, but Irving stays active and involved. He is writing a memoir about his life with Ele and their adventures in the Foreign Service. Moreover, he lectures regularly about Latin America at UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy. And in a wonderfully improbable "small world" story, the UC San Diego professor and artist who created a special sculpture for Irving on the occasion of his 95th birthday also served alongside Irving, without their knowing it, many decades ago in the same humanitarian project in Hidalgo, Mexico.

Irving is resolute in his belief that "education is the key to the advancement of any population." He says, "My heart is with the California public university system. I would rather support the University of California than any other single institution."

Whether you want to make an impact at UC San Diego today or leave a legacy for future Tritons, there are many ways to give. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at (858) 534-2249 or and she'll be happy to help you explore the options that work best for you.

Bequest, CGA