Curtis Abbott '76

Making UC San Diego a Family Affair

Many UC San Diego alumni remember the campus in the same way that Curtis Abbott does: up on a hill surrounded by eucalyptus. Curtis 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 Curtis 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.

Curtis, 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." Curtis and Maryvonne are also members of UC San Diego's York Society, "because UCSD is part of our estate planning, too." The York Society is a special group to recognize individuals who provide support for the university through planned gifts. This special group is named in honor of Herb York, founding chancellor of the university, professor, world-renowned physicist and ambassador for peace.