Beverly Hills billionaires give UC Davis $50 million to build agricultural research hub
Three prominent Beverly Hills real estate investors gave $48.5 million to a California university dedicated to agriculture, becoming the first class of donors to give more than $50 million to UC Davis agriculture research.
The three men – one of whom is Robert Pack, who also donated $1 million to UC Davis – helped land the grant, which will spur economic development and support the growth of agricultural industries – particularly in California and other parts of the United States, according to Laura Hymas, a spokeswoman for UC Davis.
“The research center will help create new jobs in California and around the world,” she said.
UC Davis also created a new office to run the agriculture research project.
Packet and his wife, Lynn, who is the founder of the Packer University, gave $12 million apiece.
The Beverly Hills trio also gave a $500,000 contribution to the University of California at Berkeley to establish its agriculture research center, which they said was their first gift.
The other two grant recipients were former state Sen. Leland Yee and the CEO of Pacific Lumber, the owner of the largest packing plant in California.
Pack gave $2 million toward the UC Davis project, while Yee gave $500,000. Pacific Lumber gave $1 million.
The Yee and Pack families have been prominent in California politics and have given for years to a number of causes.
Pack is the author of the landmark legislation known as Proposition 13, which reduced property taxes on millions of Californians in the 1990s with the intent of raising more money for public schools and other government services.
He was also active in politics for years as mayor of Irvine for 28 years, including as chairman of his city’s Community Service Commission. He remains on the city’s board of directors.
A graduate of UCLA, Pack was a partner with the law firm of Baker and McKenzie when the firm was representing