CSUMB receives largest donation in its history
Joel and Dena Gambord of Pebble Beach have made a $10 million gift to California State University, Monterey Bay to establish two endowed professorships, fund student scholarships and set up an entrepreneurship fund.
In recognition of the gift, the CSU Board of Trustees has approved the naming of CSUMB’s newest academic building as the Joel and Dena Gambord Business and Information Technology Building.
“Our campus is very honored by this generous gift from Joel and Dena Gambord, the largest gift ever given to CSUMB,” President Eduardo Ochoa told the board. “Joel and Dena Gambord together have been successful in real estate development in California, applying their tenacious work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and strong sense of community responsibility.” An endowed professorship in Joel Gambord’s name will be established in business entrepreneurship; the endowed professorship in Dena Gambord’s name will be in nursing.
“We feel we have been blessed by the good fortune during our lifetime to have the resources to create an opportunity to assist others in our community," the Gambords said in a statement. “The goal of our gift to CSUMB is to provide the university with the ability to expand and enhance its entrepreneurial program where students will learn to start and maintain a successful business enterprise, giving employment to themselves and others.”
The gift will create an entrepreneurship fund for students, to help them research, build and launch products from concept to market.
“In addition, we are eager to supplement the already established nursing program at CSUMB that trains RN and BSN nurses for the health care needs of both a growing and aging population.”
President Ochoa added: “We are grateful for this generous and extraordinary gift. It will have a transformative impact on our campus for many years and generations to come.”
The Gambords are longtime California residents from modest backgrounds.
Dena's family moved from Oklahoma in 1936, during the Dust Bowl era, and settled in Carmel Valley. Her mother worked in the sardine canneries in Monterey and her father worked as a carpenter building Fort Ord.
Joel’s family came from Eastern Europe to America through Canada just before the turn of the century. They moved to the United States, settling in Los Angeles in 1901.
Joel worked at the family meat packing business before being drafted into the Army during the Korean War. He spent time in boot camp at Fort Ord.
Joel said, “As the 40’s were ending, we began looking to the future of a growing country. California was booming, people were coming from all over the country to the Golden State where opportunity was everywhere.”
After his release from the service, Joel began his career in real estate development and construction. He was a director of the National Association of Home Builders and also served in the International Executive Service Corp., a function at that time of the Agency for International Development.
In Los Gatos after they were married, Joel and Dena lived for over 30 years in the Monte Sereno home that John Steinbeck and his wife Carol built in 1936. It was where Steinbeck wrote “Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men.”
All through the years they lived in Monte Sereno, Dena wanted to get back to the Monterey Peninsula where her life in California began. In 2000, they discovered what was to be their new home in Pebble Beach. This is where they live today in retirement.
Family real estate holdings, investments and their business ventures have allowed the Gambords to build their philanthropic base. They have been active with the Community Foundation of Monterey County since 2013, establishing a charitable foundation focused on support of organizations involved in training and placing service dogs.
Published Nov. 19, 2015