San Manuel’s landmark gift of $14 million will fund a state-of-the-art health research center supporting the region’s underserved populations
CLAREMONT, Calif. (December 8, 2020) – Claremont Graduate University (CGU) announces one
of the largest gifts in its nearly 100-year history—$14 million—from the San Manuel Band of
Mission Indians in Highland, CA, to purchase the Huntley Bookstore building at the heart of The
Claremont Colleges, a unique group of institutions in U.S. higher education.
An iconic example of mid-20th century architecture, the building will serve as the home of the
Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies, an innovative, multi-disciplinary health research center
rooted in a health and well-being initiative launched more than a year ago.
Bearing a name that means “People of the Pines” (which refers to the original inhabitants of the
area who are the ancestors of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians), the center will facilitate
the collaboration among CGU researchers, scientists, and outside partners to address health and
well-being challenges especially prevalent in underserved, vulnerable populations of the Inland
Empire and Indian Country.
Meeting a Need for Proactive Health Research
CGU is located on the threshold of the Inland Empire, a region with a high prevalence of chronic
disease where many underserved residents lack sufficient health coverage or awareness of the
benefits of wellness and preventative care.
When residents need a doctor, they face challenges to access due to an overstressed healthcare
system. Such underserved populations include Native American communities, which historically
have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental health issues, lack of overall wellbeing,
and other chronic conditions.
San Manuel’s collaboration with CGU demonstrates how partnerships can provide a strong and
effective framework to address longstanding social inequities. Discussion of this historic gift began
in 2019 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and it comes at a time when such
partnerships are needed to produce even more meaningful responses to public health challenges.
CGU President Len Jessup said the partnership between CGU and the tribe will make it possible to
create “powerful new collaborations on preventive and proactive responses to the kinds of chronic
illness affecting so many today.”
Future research at the center, he added, will address “many of the ‘underlying conditions’ we’ve
been hearing about during the pandemic. It’s our hope to eventually produce the kinds of research
at this center that will help prepare everyone, especially our most vulnerable populations, for the
challenges of another global crisis.”
Integrating Many Disciplines Under One Roof
Today, scholars across CGU’s seven schools and divisions are conducting innovative research on
proactive and behavioral approaches to disease prevention and designing health-driven
technologies improve accessibility to health management programs by underserved populations.
These efforts along with those of outside partners will come together in the Huntley Bookstore
building, a 23,000 square-foot facility, which has served as The Claremont Colleges’ central
bookstore for 50 years. The School of Community & Global Health will serve as the anchor tenant.
“Real, substantial breakthroughs happen when people from many disciplines come together and
collaborate. That’s the hallmark of our transdisciplinary philosophy,” Jessup explained, “and the
purchase of the Huntley makes it possible to create such a space for that kind of engagement on
San Manuel’s partnership with CGU builds on a relationship with the university dating to 2006 and
the establishment of the university’s Tribal Administration Program. That program provides
intensive training in areas of management as related to tribal governance and administration.
The Huntley building also will serve as that program’s home and the location of an envisioned
tribal community governance and jurisdiction center focused on health, well-being, and other
issues affecting Indian Country.
Improving Lives in the IE and Beyond
Plans for the center’s collaborative environment include bringing together university scholars,
outside partners, and leaders of outreach programs focused on integrative health and advanced
research to improve healthcare for vulnerable populations.
The focus won’t be on the Inland Empire alone but also extend to the L.A. Basin, which is home to
the largest population of Native Americans found in an urban area of the U.S. The tribe
understands the obstacles facing many of the region’s underserved communities because of its own
past economic and health-related struggles.
“In our role as stewards of our ancestral lands, we support our neighboring communities, in
addition to our Tribe. For generations, low-income communities and underserved populations have
needed quality healthcare. Our gift is an investment in future healthier communities and one we
are happy to make,” said San Manuel Tribal Chair Ken Ramirez.
Deron Marquez is the former San Manuel Chair, a CGU alumnus, and member of the university’s
Board of Trustees. He believes that the center’s work will resonate far beyond Southern California.
“The types of health and well-being research that will be tackled by the center are relevant to the
needs and situations of so many today. Its benefits will ripple out,” Marquez said. “To bring
together the university’s pioneering approach to research with San Manuel’s philanthropic vision
is truly exciting.”
For more about the Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies, visit info.cgu.edu/ychs/
LEADERSHIP BIOGRAPHIES & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
About CGU President Len Jessup
Len Jessup is a visionary leader in higher education, known as a
consensus builder with a deep interest in innovation and
entrepreneurship. Prior to his arrival at CGU in the summer of 2018,
he was the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
His other leadership roles include serving as the dean of the Eller
College of Management at the University of Arizona and as vice
president of university development and president of the Washington
State University Foundation.
Jessup is a professor and scholar of management information systems. His publications include coauthoring
the third edition of Information Systems Today: Managing in the Digital World and “On
the Future of the MIS Discipline: MIS as a Critical Strategic Driver,” published in the journal
Database. In addition to his academic achievements, he has received numerous awards, including
the 2018 CEO Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District
The first in his family to graduate from college, Jessup was born and raised in Northern California.
He holds a doctorate in Management and Organizational Behavior from the University of Arizona,
Tucson, with a minor in Management Information Systems. He also holds an MBA and a bachelor’s
degree in Information and Communication Studies, both from California State University, Chico.
About San Manuel Tribal Chair Kenneth Ramirez
Kenneth Ramirez was elected as chair of the San Manuel Band of
Mission Indians in April 2020.
Chair Ramirez served five terms as Tribal Secretary on the San Manuel
Business Committee prior to being elected chair. He also serves on the
San Manuel Education Committee and actively promotes access to
healthcare and education for all through his work with Loma Linda
University Health and other nonprofit partners in the Inland Empire
region. Ramirez leads the operating committee for First Nations Experience (FNX), the nation’s
first Native American and World Indigenous Peoples television channel.
In his various leadership roles, Ramirez has been deeply committed to helping enhance the rights
and meet the needs of all San Manuel tribal citizens as well as other members of Indian Country.
Ramirez is a firm believer in the necessity of strategic philanthropy that creates new opportunities
and partnerships in the region, including this one with Claremont Graduate University.
About Claremont Graduate University
Founded in 1925, Claremont Graduate University is one of a select few American universities
devoted solely to graduate-level education. The university is a founding member of The Claremont
Colleges, which include Pomona College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps
College, Harvey Mudd College, and Keck Graduate Institute. CGU comprises seven schools
offering 76 degree and certificate programs. The university’s unique transdisciplinary perspective
encourages students to explore complex issues across academic disciplines. CGU is home to the
Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management and the annual Kingsley and
Kate Tufts Poetry Awards. Visit www.cgu.edu.
About San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe
located near the city of Highland, California. The Serrano clan is indigenous to the San Bernardino
Valley, known today as the Inland Empire. The San Manuel Reservation was established in 1891 and
recognized as a sovereign nation with the right of self-government. As an indigenous community,
the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ origins and history stem from their relationship with the
land and to all who share it. Its ancestors have handed down the tradition of expressing themselves
through a culture of giving. As one of the largest employers in the Inland Empire, San Manuel is
able to answer the call of Yawa’ (a Serrano word meaning “to act on one’s beliefs”) through
partnerships with charitable organizations that make a difference in the lives of thousands of
families across the country. It draws upon its history, knowledge, expertise, and cultural values to
direct its philanthropic giving in the region, as well as to Native American causes nationwide. Visit
About the Huntley Bookstore
Dedicated in 1969, the three-story building that has served as The Claremont Colleges’ central
bookstore for 50 years was made possible through a gift from the Earl W. Huntley Foundation. The
building was designed by acclaimed architects A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons, whose firm
also designed many private homes (including the home of actor Gary Cooper) and public buildings
(including the Otis College of Art and Design, UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library, and St.
Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Studio City) in Southern California.
The Huntley building’s design features—which include exposed timber post and beams as well as
floor-to-ceiling glass—are considered hallmarks of the mid-century modern style that integrates
interiors with the outdoors. The