San Diego Philanthropist Darlene Marcos Shiley Donates More Than $1 Million to Support USD Students During COVID-19 Crisis

Longtime University of San Diego (USD) supporter and philanthropist, Darlene Marcos Shiley, has donated more than $1 million to USD in a three-part gift that will directly benefit USD students and their educational experience. The generous gift from Shiley comes at an unprecedented time when universities across the country are facing new financial and educational challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Darlene is an invaluable friend and supporter of the University of San Diego. Always one to be proactive, she told me that she wanted to help USD students and to issue a call to action for others to join in supporting USD. Darlene’s generous gift will help students directly in a time when many of them are facing financial hardships and will need extra support while getting the values-based, Catholic education they deserve. Darlene hopes that her donation can encourage other friends of the university to support USD students during this challenging time through a matching gift to the University of San Diego,” said President James T. Harris III.

Shiley’s gift reaffirms her dedication to higher education and support for the quality of education that USD offers – providing students with the tools they need to confront humanity’s urgent challenges.

“During this especially tough time, many of us are asking how we can help our communities. For my late husband Donald and me, supporting the higher education experience of our future generations is one of the best ways to look optimistically toward the future. The goal is to support upcoming leaders who, with the right education, can be equipped to handle any subsequent challenges our world may face. Darlene Marcos Shiley added, “There is no better preparation for life than a values-based learning experience.”

Mrs. Shiley’s three-part gift will provide:

  • $500,000 in scholarships for USD undergraduate students, as the financial needs of students is expected to increase 25-percent from previous years, given the current financial market
  • $500,000 to the renovation of the Shiley Theatre, providing upgraded seating in the theatre and also ensure USD has additional teaching spaces on campus that can accommodate larger classes while still adhering to appropriate social distancing standards.
  • $60,000 to help qualified USD students who need extra support, such as nutritious meals, during their campus-life experience

The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering and Shiley Theatre were named in honor of Donald and Darlene Shiley, thanks to previous donations by the couple to support the education of USD engineering and theatre students. The late Donald Shiley was the inventor of medical devices, including his pioneering Tilting Disc Artificial Heart Valve. The Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology is a tribute to his legacy.

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 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university'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's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan 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.


Elena Gomez
(619) 260-2739