Friday, May 16, 2008


University of California, Davis
May 16, 2008


Robert Mondavi, patriarch of the California wine industry, was one of the most ardent and generous supporters of the University of California, Davis.

As an expression of his desire to improve not only California's wines, but also its quality of life, Mr. Mondavi generously supported cultural and educational institutions. At UC Davis, his contributions established the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2001, Robert and Margrit Mondavi gave $25 million to help establish the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which is scheduled to open in October, and $10 million to help launch the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2002 and is now a regional performing arts landmark.

In June 2004, UC Davis presented Robert and Margrit Mondavi with the UC Davis Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the university. "I am delighted to award the UC Davis Medal to them for all that they have done for this university, for the state, for everyone desiring a meaningful and enriched life," Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said at the time. "I can't imagine more deserving recipients."

Indeed, Mr. Mondavi had been a well-respected and appreciated member of the UC Davis community for years before that. In 1988, for example, UC Davis faculty invited Mr. Mondavi to take a prestigious position as Regents Lecturer.

Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science

The Mondavis' $25 million donation was combined with campus funds and other private contributions to create new state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities to house the UC Davis departments of viticulture and enology as well as food science and technology. Both departments are part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The institute's first three research and instruction buildings -- comprising 129,600 square feet -- are nearing completion. The institute's grand opening is scheduled for October. A wine and food-processing laboratory will be established adjacent to the first three buildings.

Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

The Mondavi Center includes the 1,800-seat Jackson Hall and the 250-seat Studio Theatre. The center presents music, dance, lectures and theater productions. Jackson Hall and the Studio Theatre are both equipped with state-of-the art stage, lighting and acoustic capabilities.

The Mondavi Center serves as a resource for the campus and the region, raising the profile of the campus's arts and humanities programs to that of its top-ranked science programs.

The following UC Davis leaders comment about Mr. Mondavi, his commitment to UC Davis, wine and the arts, and his passing.

UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef: "Bob has demonstrated that innovation and excellence are worthy and reachable goals, that universities are deserving of investment, that the sciences and the arts are essential and compatible companions, and that each of us -- no matter our calling in life -- is capable of and responsible for creating a legacy. There is no doubt that his legacy is substantial and enduring."

Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: "Robert Mondavi worked ardently to improve grape and wine production in California, and he recognized the benefits of agricultural research and education for everyone. Robert and Margrit's generosity benefits all Californians and will live on in the annals of the University of California."

Clare Hasler, executive director of UC Davis' Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science: "We are extremely saddened by the passing of Robert Mondavi, a man who almost single-handedly transformed the California wine industry and raised the profile of American wine in the eyes of the world. Mr. Mondavi's extraordinary gift, establishing the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis, will serve as an enduring reminder of his passion for the importance of wine and food in enhancing the quality of life. It also opens a new era of opportunity for the university's widely acclaimed wine and food programs for generations to come."

Don Roth, executive director of UC Davis' Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts: "Robert was a great friend to the Mondavi Center and to the arts, and we all will miss him. We owe it to Robert and Margrit Mondavi's vision, leadership and generosity for ensuring that the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts became a reality. Their willingness to take a lead in supporting the center inspired the generosity of many others. Their presence in the center for a variety of events demonstrated their passion and commitment to great art. The stature of Robert and Margrit Mondavi ensured that the Mondavi Center would very quickly catch the attention of the arts world nationally and internationally."

Andrew Waterhouse, chair of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology: "We are greatly saddened to hear that Mr. Mondavi, a lifelong friend of UC Davis, passed away today. We have had the honor to be associated with him, and we appreciate his strong support for public education. As just one example, Mr. Mondavi allowed our students to conduct experiments in his hallowed To Kalon vineyard in the Napa Valley. In support of his vision for excellence, he created the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, a bequest that has taken our programs fully into the 21st century. It is a living tribute to his foresight and generosity. Our contacts with Margrit, and his children and grandchildren will sustain his friendship and vision into the future. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family."

Media contact(s):
* Mitchel Benson, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9844,
* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

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