Donor Spotlight: Marty Winkler

winkler It's been more than 50 years but Marty Winkler, MS '68 Engineering, can still tell you the name of the donor who helped make it possible for him to attend Cornell University. "I worked to save money for college," he says, "but I couldn't have gone without the New York State Regents Scholarship and a private John McMullen Scholarship. I never understood who he was or what he did, but thanks to the support I received, I graduated with relatively little debt."

Marty was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, graduating at 16 from the Bronx High School of Science. "We were raised in a family of very modest means, but my sister and I never knew it. I guess that's a sign of good parents!" Another sign: He and his sister would be the first in their family to attend college.

Marty graduated from Cornell with a degree in electrical engineering and headed west, landing in General Dynamics' space program. Realizing he needed a more advanced skill set, he turned to UC San Diego's Engineering Department where he earned a master's degree in aerospace sciences, specializing in optimization theory.

In 1966 he married Olivia, a San Diego native, and between this and having two children he became permanently anchored to the region – and a player in the growth of local industries. Marty went on to become the vice president of engineering and chief operating officer of General Dynamics' Space Systems division. The next career move was Teledyne Ryan where he was vice president and general manager of the Global Hawk program, then he went on to head up Cubic's five defense companies, from which he retired in 1999.

For the next 15 or so years, Marty took courses at UC San Diego that were missing from his technical education. "I wound up auditing about 40 courses, mostly in the liberal arts." Olivia took courses at Osher after retiring from UC San Diego's Orthopedics department, where she spent a major period of her working years as director of publications for the Journal of Orthopedic Research. "It was just terrific, we were learning so many different things," says Marty. The Winklers were also learning to appreciate the remarkable undergraduates that surrounded them on campus, including the engineering students Marty influenced through his contributions as a volunteer on the Dean's Advisory Committee.

Recently, while updating their trust, "We talked a lot about creating endowments in organizations we believe in, and wound up going to UC San Diego and talking to them about a scholarship." The Olivia and Marty Winkler Engineering Scholarship was endowed in 2013.

"I believe very strongly that the country needs more engineers, real engineers; they're part and parcel of our nation's productivity. We believe in a rigorous academic standard and we believe in supporting first-generation college students." The Engineering Department put the Winklers in touch with the Office of Gift Planning, where the details came together to seal their legacy.

While discussing the future, however, the Winklers learned that they could make an immediate impact and meet Winkler Scholars if they funded their endowed scholarship now. So upon learning of the tax benefits of making a gift of stock and retirement accounts, they blended these with cash to fund the scholarship.

Winkler Scholars receive a four-year scholarship, and every two years a new scholar is named. "We've met the first one and it was an absolute thrill," says Marty. "Here's this wonderful young man – smart as a whip – who grew up in San Diego with immigrant parents. His story is like mine: I could never have maintained the grades I did if I'd had to work during the academic year.

"And that's why we give to UC San Diego."

Endowment, Outright Gift, Retirement Plan Assets, Stock