Alumna Kristen Monson ’82, MBA ’86 wanted to give back to the UCI education that helped pave her success. 

UCI Alumna Commits Over $3 Million to the
Merage School

UCI Alumna Commits Over $3 Million to the Merage School

Kristen Monson ’82, MBA ’86 gets teary-eyed talking about her grandfathers, one a postal worker and the other an auto mechanic. It was their children, Monson’s parents, who saw education as a means to a better life and, together, instilled in their four children a lifelong appreciation. Eventually, that appreciation would lead Monson to make the largest alumni donation in the history of the Merage School

“Isn’t it amazing how much can change in one generation, all because of education?” Monson muses.

Growing up middle class in Riverside, Calif., Monson worked at Del Taco through high school, and worked at Vons to pay her way through UCI, where she studied economics. 

In 1984, Monson returned to UCI to pursue her MBA after working for several years in investment management. One day, a guest speaker came to class. He was the director of the corporate board at Pacific Mutual, and he introduced Monson to a job opportunity alongside mostly Ivy League grads at its small bond investment unit.

“My experiences at UCI laid the foundation for my success at PIMCO. I ... feel privileged to be able to give back to UCI and to contribute to the brilliant future of The Paul Merage School of Business”

- Kristen Monson ’82, MBA ’86

Over the next 26 years, Monson rose to the role of executive vice president and helped grow the Pacific Investment Management Company, better known as PIMCO, from $11 billion to $2 trillion in assets. Following her belief in the importance of education, she founded and developed the PIMCO Institute, a client investment educational program available worldwide.

When the Brilliant Future campaign launched on Oct. 4, 2019, Monson pledged $1.5 million in legacy giving, bringing her campaign commitment to the Merage School to over $3 million. Through this gift, Monson calls on all alumni and stakeholders within the Merage School community to consider their impact through estate giving.

Kristen Monson zots in front of the second-floor grand terrace that bears her name.

“Kristen’s most recent commitment to the Merage School once again raises the bar of philanthropic excellence for our community,” says Eric Spangenberg, dean of The Paul Merage School of Business. “Her engagement has been meaningful beyond measure, and we are lucky to call her our own. This investment sets the standard for legacy giving and positions our school for unprecedented growth and success, throughout this campaign and in perpetuity.”

In 2015, Monson donated $1.5 million to help fund a new 5-story, 78,000-square-foot building for the Merage School, and the second-floor grand terrace now bears her name.

The timing of her two gifts feels particularly poignant for Monson because she was able to make them during the lifetime of several faculty members who personally influenced her success.

“My experiences at UCI laid the foundation for my success at PIMCO,” she says. “I am grateful for a wonderful inspiring career at such a world-class firm and feel privileged to be able to give back to UCI and to contribute to the brilliant future of The Paul Merage School of Business.”

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