Lawrence Benveniste ’72 knows how transformative a UC education can be. He and his wife, Marie, created a $5 million planned gift to his alma maters. Photo: Erica Aitken 

Generous Estate Gift from Alumnus will
Support UCI Mathematics

Generous Estate Gift from Alumnus will Support UCI Mathematics

“I think the University of California is the best public university system in the country,” says dual alumnus Lawrence Benveniste, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at UCI in 1972 and a doctoral degree in mathematics at UC Berkeley in 1975.

A former dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, the renowned economist attributes his success to the rigorous training in mathematics that he received at the two UC schools. Now he and his wife, Marie, have established a $5 million planned gift to ensure that his alma maters continue to provide all students, regardless of background, with the type of world-class education he had.

Benveniste, a native of Culver City, Calif., knows how transformative a UC education can be. He and his brother were the first in their family to attend college.

He discovered his passion for mathematics when a UCI professor, Robert W. West, introduced him to the rigor and elegance of mathematical thinking. Benveniste still remembers how West artfully used pictures to bring his class in real analysis to life. “It was far and away the best class I’ve ever taken,” Benveniste says. “It inspired me to pursue my studies in math.”

Encouraged by West to enter the doctoral program at UC Berkeley, Benveniste became interested in how mathematics and economics overlapped. His adviser there, Professor David Gale, helped him explore this new fascination. Thanks to Gale, Benveniste learned that his passion encompassed economics and finance, as well as mathematics. By the time he graduated, Benveniste felt confident that he would succeed at whatever he chose to do.

“A charitable remainder unitrust provides for our family, and then we get the opportunity to impact more lives...”

- Marie Benveniste

“If I started over in life, I’d do exactly what I did,” he says. “I would study math first. I still think that’s the basis for everything I did afterward.”

Benveniste has never forgotten what the California education system did for him. Now he and his wife are opening doors for others by structuring a planned gift that will directly benefit the mathematics departments at UCI and UC Berkeley.

When the Benvenistes pass away, their estate will make a distribution valued at about $5 million to create two charitable remainder unitrusts that The Regents of the University of California will manage for 20 years. During that period, the planned giving vehicle will provide the Benvenistes’ heirs – Lawrence Benveniste’s son and granddaughter – with an annual income stream. After two decades, UCI and UC Berkeley will receive the rest of each trust and the accrued interest – which combined could exceed $6 million – to subsidize gifted mathematicians through endowed chairs at both campuses.

The Benvenistes are opening doors for other talented students through their investment. Photo: Erica Aitken

Like West and Gale, the two professors who so profoundly influenced Benveniste, the faculty members who hold the Benvenistes’ endowed chairs will introduce future generations to the rigor and elegance of mathematical thinking.

A charitable remainder trust proved to be the perfect giving vehicle for the Benvenistes. As Marie Benveniste says, “A charitable remainder unitrust provides for our family, and then we get the opportunity to impact more lives, especially the terrific faculty and talented students at the two campuses.”

Her husband adds, “One of the beauties of this structure is that we can be sure that after we’re gone, the money will be managed well. We don’t have to worry.”