Gene Rosenfeld received the UCLA Medal

January 14, 2010

By Paul Feinberg

In a gala celebration held January 14 at the home of UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, UCLA Anderson Board of Visitor chairman Eugene S. Rosenfeld received the UCLA Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the university. Created in 1979, the medal is awarded to "those who have made truly extraordinary and distinguished contributions to their professions and to our society." Previous winners include such luminaries as William Ackerman, Carol Burnett, John Wooden and John E. Anderson ('40), among others.

Although he began his career with the international accounting firm Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, today Rosenfeld is one of the nation's leading real estate developers, enjoying a career heading a number of major companies both in residential and commercial real estate. From 1963 to 1979 he was an executive with Kaufman and Broad, eventually rising to president then chief executive officer. Under Rosenfeld's leadership, Kaufman and Broad became one of the world's leading producers of housing, expanding internationally.

Along with Apollo Advisors, he founded Western Pacific Housing, a residential development company that merged with Schuler Homes, Inc, a publicly traded home builder. In 2002, the combined companies were sold to D.R. Horton for $1.4 billion. Currently, Rosenfeld is the sole proprietor of ForestLane Group, a major investor and developer of commercial and residential property in the U.S. and Europe.

As a Los Angeles civic leader, Rosenfeld has served on numerous boards of art, health and academic organizations. He previously served as chairman and trustee of The UCLA Foundation and currently is a member of the UCLA Chancellor's Associates. In addition to his UCLA Anderson Board of Visitors role, the school's library bears his name. He also serves on the board for the Pardee RAND Graduate School and has endowed a chair at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Computational Genetics.

The award ceremony was attended by UCLA Anderson's Dean Judy Olian, members of the school's board of visitors and faculty. Also in attendance was Rosenfeld's family, including his wife Maxine, his children, his grandchildren and several UCLA undergraduate students whose scholastic financial burden is eased through fellowships provided by the Rosenfelds. During her remarks, Olian paid tribute to both Gene and Maxine Rosenfeld, calling their marriage a partnership where decisions are shared. Olian referred to them as "decisive, honest, fun-loving, grounded and modest."

"They have beautiful taste, they are great parents and are extraordinarily generous," said Olian. The dean went on to recount how Gene Rosenfeld's admittance to UCLA was in part the result of a 50 dollar scholarship he received and that from that humble beginning he went on to create an extraordinary life.

"As a result of his experience, Gene has dedicated his life to creating opportunities for others, he just loves to give. Gene (also) loves to build things - organizations, futures - he helped build UCLA Anderson, helped build the Rosenfeld library and has built programs all over campus. Gene has been a rock and source of support and I know I can count on his wise perspective," said Olian. "He is my totally trusted buddy, valuable to me and to the school. There is nothing I could say that could measure up to the gratitude we have for you. We thank you and we love you."

In the formal presentation of the medal, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block noted that "The Rosenfeld's generosity is seen all over campus and the city. UCLA would not be the institution it is today without him."

After accepting the award from the chancellor, Rosenfeld expressed his thanks for the honor. He got a laugh when he recalled how his high school guidance counselor told him that he wasn't college material and that he should go to work at Sears, "there they had a good pension plan."

"I never forgot that 50 dollar scholarship that enabled me to attend UCLA," Rosenfeld said. "I received a super education and made great friends here. It's my pleasure and honor to serve as chairman of the UCLA Anderson Board of Visitors."

"UCLA changed the destiny of our family," Rosenfeld said. "It was a life changing event for us. Thank you so much for the honor."

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