Mulvaney Family Gift of Nearly $3 Million Will Transform the University of San Diego’s Center for Social Change and Action

A gift of nearly $3 million from San Francisco Bay Area couple Karen and Tom Mulvaney will expand the reach and impact of the University of San Diego’s Center for Community Service Learning in San Diego and around the world.

In honor of the gift, the Center will be renamed as the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action (CASA).

“This is truly a transformative gift and one that will allow generations of University of San Diego students to not only give back to their local and global communities but to grow personally, professionally and spiritually,” said University of San Diego President Mary E. Lyons. “We are very grateful for the Mulvaneys’ generosity.”

The Mulvaneys’ gift also resulted in another $450,000 for the Center from hundreds of other donors through a matching challenge completed in 2012.

Tom Mulvaney graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1977. The couple’s son, Mason, earned his bachelor’s degree in 2009 from the University. Tom’s father, Jim, a noted San Diego civic leader, also taught at the University of San Diego School of Law.

The couple, who reside in Lafayette, Calif., has a long history of community involvement and engagement and are committed to CASA’s mission to connect students, staff, faculty and alumni with their local and global communities. Learning to understand, collaborate and work together “just makes the world a better place,” said Tom Mulvaney, a successful businessman. “The experience of being together with other people is the very best way to affect change inwardly and outwardly,” said Karen Mulvaney. “I don’t think anything can match that.”

Through their gift, CASA will be able to expand its efforts for faculty, staff, students and alumni to serve with compassion, work for peace and become leaders dedicated to ethical and compassionate service. The Center has more than 50 partnerships allowing students to participate in a range of programs such as mentoring and tutoring at-risk youth, planting community gardens and consulting on microfinance projects. Students, faculty, staff and alumni also participate in immersion projects to better understand communities around the globe including New Orleans, Tijuana and Jamaica.

“The support from the Mulvaneys has been incredible,” said Chris Nayve, CASA’s director. “Through their generosity, members of the campus community will be able to do so much more to share their own resources and knowledge while learning to recognize the wisdom held by the local and global communities they join.”

The Mulvaneys’ daughter, Meg, is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga and is currently teaching in Nepal. The couple’s gift will also establish the Mulvaney Fellows Program, where students from both the University of San Diego and Saint Mary’s College of California will participate in community-based learning and engagement activities. Similar to other CASA programs, it will help educate both the minds and hearts of the entire campus community. “You can be really smart and have a great brain but if you don’t have compassion and a heart and a willingness to understand other ideas and the beliefs of other people, your brain is only going to take you so far,” said Karen Mulvaney.




About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Jeryldine Tully
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