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UCLA alumni donate millions to planned Wasserman Football Center

Longtime philanthropists Jim and Carol Collins have donated $10 million to the construction of a new UCLA football center. Courtesy Photo
Longtime philanthropists Jim and Carol Collins have donated $10 million to the construction of a new UCLA football center. Courtesy Photo

Two UCLA alumni, who met at the university and later married, have donated $10 million to the school’s planned Wasserman Football Center, it was announced Monday.

Longtime philanthropists Jim and Carol Collins made their first gift to UCLA in 1963. Now the East Plaza of Pauley Pavilion will be known as the “Collins Family Plaza” and some aspect of the new football center will also honor the couple’s largesse.

“The word generosity is synonymous with the Collins family,” Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. “It is as much a testament to who Jim and Carol are as people as it is to the sheer magnitude of their philanthropy.”

Jim lettered in track and field and earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at UCLA in 1950. He built a single hamburger restaurant into Collins Food International, a major food-service chain, now Sizzler International, Inc.

“It is gratifying for Carol and me to be able to support the university we love,” Jim said. The two have supported UCLA’s football team for years, but the gift is about more than that, he said.

“We hope this gift will allow UCLA to continue to have great success both academically and competitively.”

Carol attended UCLA’s Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School on the college campus long before she enrolled as an undergraduate and joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She has served as a board member for the elementary school and Women & Philanthropy at UCLA.

Jim is the chair emeritus of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign that began in May and which the university said is the largest fundraising effort undertaken by a public university.

Three of the couple’s four children are also UCLA alumni.

The UCLA Athletic Department is raising funds from donors the football training facility to be built on west side of Spaulding Field, the practice field for the Bruin football team. It is named the Wasserman Football Center in tribute to the generous backing from UCLA alumnus Casey Wasserman and his family foundation.

With the Collins’ gift, the department has beat its original goal of $50 million for the center and is now aiming for $65 million to ensure it will be one of the best training facilities in the nation.

“Jim and Carol Collins have long known that UCLA is a special place for our student-athletes to compete and pursue their dreams,” football coach Jim Mora said.

“In fact, they themselves lived it … Because of the generosity of the Collins family and many others, the Wasserman Football Center has not only become a reality, it is poised to become one of the nation’s premier football facilities.”

Additional naming opportunities remain for the training center.

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