By Riley Szenasi
DAVIS, CA––Lynda and Stewart Resnick selected UC Davis as the recipient of their most recent contribution to environmental sustainability, the largest donation made by a single donor to UC Davis totaling 50 million dollars.
According to the university’s announcement, the couple announced the donation at a press event at the Mondavi Center last week.
The Resnicks have had a long history of philanthropic endeavors, the most notable of which has been through their work with The Wonderful Company. According to the Wonderful Education website, they initiated the Wonderful Education Scholarship Program in 1994, with the intent to “increase the number of students earning a college degree with minimal debt”.
The Wonderful Education website mentions that the scholarship program began as a way to give back to loyal employees by providing them and their families with financial aid to further their education.
Since then, the company has expanded this program and extended it to students outside of the company. They now offer three different scholarship types, each with different criteria.
Those who meet all of the criteria have the opportunity to receive up to 30,000 dollars in scholarships and a free laptop. As of today, they have provided scholarships to over 2,000 students from California’s Central Valley.
The company website claims they are “the world’s leading grower of tree nuts, America’s largest citrus grower, and the world’s largest flower delivery service”. As mentioned in the university’s announcement, the company is responsible for many well-known brands like Fiji Water, Wonderful Pistachios, and more.
All their products are sourced, grown, and packaged with conservation and innovation in mind. They put the health of the environment at the forefront of their ventures and seek to use their power to inspire communities to live more sustainably.
According to the announcement released by UC Davis, Lynda and Steward Resnick have contributed an estimated 1.3 billion dollars to environmental sustainability and conservation.
The Resnicks’ made their first major contribution to sustainability in 2009 in the form of 20 million dollars to Caltech. According to the Caltech website, their donations over the years have contributed to the company’s investigation of “solar science, climate science, energy, biofuels, decomposable plastics, water, and environmental resources, and ecology and biosphere engineering.”
In recent years they have made sizable donations to organizations such as the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law, the Milken Institute’s Lynda and Stewart Resnick Center for Public Health, along with others referenced on their website.
UC Davis announced that this donation will be used to fund the construction of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Center for Agricultural Innovation and 10 million dollars will be put into the Resnick Agricultural Innovation Research Fund.
Starting this year, the fund will be dispersed annually to help finance the research projects of “UC Davis faculty and Cooperative Extension specialists.”
These specialists are part of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and have been “working with farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, and so many others to identify concerns and innovate solutions that support productive agriculture, healthy ecosystems, and prosperous communities throughout California” for over 100 years.
The design plan will feature a “40,000-square-foot, LEED-certified, state-of-the-art hub” and will “house classrooms, research and lab spaces, and student career and advising support.”
Through the creation of this building, the university and company hope to foster cooperation between student researchers and field experts. According to UC Davis’ Chancellor, Gary S. May, “the center will explore new ways of balancing food production with leading sustainability practices while advancing the global agricultural industry with scalable solutions.”
Design and construction of the new center are set to begin this year. Staff and students can hope to begin use of the facility as soon as 2026.