UC Berkeley Web Feature
Donors, chairs and Cal: Launching lasting friendships
BERKELEY – Venture capitalist Larry Bock considers energy "the single most important problem this country needs to address." In his view, the research being conducted at Berkeley to develop nanotechnology-based solar cells is "the way to go about solving the problem." Last year, Bock underscored his commitment to cracking the energy conundrum when he and his wife created the Larry and Diane Bock Endowed Chair in Nanotechnology.
Although neither Bock is a Berkeley alumnus, their familiarity with Berkeley has grown as Larry Bock has drawn on faculty expertise for some of the four dozen companies he's founded, co-founded, or financed. Professor of Chemistry Paul Alivisatos, a nanotech pioneer who was selected to hold the Bock chair, is on the scientific advisory board of one of those companies, Nanosys, Inc., which Bock started in 2001 to communicate the promise of nanotechnology.
While donors don't get to select the faculty member who holds the chair they've endowed, Bock says about Alivisatos, "I couldn't have picked a better person if I had chosen him myself."
Since establishing the chair in nanotechnology, Bock has found at Berkeley a community of like-minded thinkers. His relationship with the campus has expanded: This past spring he gave the College of Chemistry's commencement address and joined the college's scientific advisory board. He has also served as an informal mentor to several Berkeley students, providing them with internships at his companies.
"Endowing a chair is much more than making a monetary gift," says Scott Biddy, vice chancellor for University Relations. "Donors often form lasting, meaningful relationships with the campus and our faculty, as the Bocks have done. The Hewlett gift offers the potential for a hundred people to become involved in the Cal community in such a way."