Around the Pier: UC San Diego Receives $2.5 Million Gift to Honor Late Scripps Oceanography Director


For the past three years, Joy Frieman has been searching to find a suitable way to honor her husband, Edward A. Frieman, former director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. A prominent national advisor to the government on issues of vital importance to defense, energy and science policy, he died in April 2013 at age 87.

“I knew it shouldn’t be a building because that’s not what he was about,” she said. “Ed was always interested in research and what research money could do, and he was one of the very early people to identify global warming.”

Mrs. Frieman decided that endowing a faculty chair and two fellowships was the most appropriate way to carry forward her late husband’s legacy of leadership in science. Her recent gift of $2.5 million to UC San Diego includes $1.5 million to establish the Edward A. Frieman Endowed Presidential Chair in Climate Sustainability. The endowed faculty chair qualifies for a $500,000 Presidential match through the UC Presidential Chair initiative, totaling $2 million in support for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Presidential chair.

Her generous support also funds the lead gift of $500,000 for a $2 million endowed postdoctoral fellowship and the lead gift of $500,000 for a $1 million graduate fellowship at Scripps Oceanography.

“Mrs. Frieman’s transformative gift to establish an endowed faculty chair and two endowed fellowships will significantly benefit our research in climate sustainability,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Her generous support is invaluable in helping UC San Diego and our Scripps Institution of Oceanography solve some of our planet’s most pressing challenges, and provides a fitting tribute to Ed Frieman.”

“Ed’s farsighted concerns and commitment to climate sustainability are even more significant today as we face enormous environmental challenges,” added Mrs. Frieman. “I am so pleased to be able to make a gift that is going to have an impact way beyond San Diego. I don’t have any doubt about it—I think climate sustainability is one of the most important issues of civilization today. There’s much work to be done.”

University of California President Janet Napolitano launched the Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs program in 2014. The objective of the program is to spur private giving to UC through a matching fund that could add 100 endowed faculty chairs to the UC system over the next five years.

Endowed chairs are vital in efforts to attract and retain top-flight faculty, provide a dedicated source of funds, in perpetuity, for the chair holder’s scholarly activities as well as support for faculty salaries and graduate fellowships.

“Ed Frieman expanded the range of research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, setting the stage for our strength today,” added Scripps Director Margaret Leinen. “We thank Joy Frieman for endowing a faculty chair and two fellowships to enhance the sustainability framework of our world-class climate research.”

Ed Frieman was appointed eighth director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego vice chancellor of Marine Sciences, and dean of the graduate school of Marine Sciences in July 1986. He became director emeritus upon his retirement from his administrative post in 1996. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy from 1979-81.

A plasma physicist, Frieman had extensive research interests that extended into other physical science fields, including hydromagnetics, hydrodynamics and astrophysics. He was a professor at Princeton University for more than 25 years, after which he was employed by the federal government, academia and the private sector.

He is credited with expanding Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s research expertise in climate change and attracting prominent scientists to Scripps, including Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a renowned specialist in the study of cloud physics and leader in groundbreaking research into the influence of pollutant aerosols on climate.

Gifts from the Friemans, long-time friends and supporters of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, included the establishment of the Edward and Joy Frieman Excellence in Teaching Award to support outstanding teaching at The Preuss School UCSD, an annuity to provide unrestricted support for Scripps Oceanography, and the Edward A. Frieman Prize for Excellence in Graduate Student Research at Scripps that annually recognizes Scripps graduate students who have truly distinguished themselves in their scientific work.

Mrs. Frieman hopes that by giving the lead gift for the postdoc and graduate student fellowships, it will inspire and encourage other donors to be part of the climate sustainability solution. Scripps Institution of Oceanography still needs to raise an additional $2 million to complete funding for the Edward A. Frieman Endowed Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Edward A. Frieman Endowed Graduate Fellowship. To learn more about supporting this opportunity, contact Scripps Oceanography Executive Director of Development Stuart Krantz, at 858-822-1405 or email

– Judy Piercey

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