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$10M Gift to Save Global Heritage
Faculty and graduate students excavate a burial mound in Lofkënd, Albania, to gain a greater understanding of burial customs used 500 years ago. (Photo courtesy of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology)

$10M Gift to Save Global Heritage

The gift will support major initiatives at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, including the recruitment of top faculty and graduate students, who will be able to embark upon projects and digs around the globe.

If you can't be the best, don't try. I think UCLA has the elements...

This article was first published in UCLA Today.

By Judy Lin

WHEN LLOYD COTSEN made his first gift to UCLA archaeology in 1966, the seeds were sown for a long-lasting relationship. Four decades later, that first contribution has multiplied a million-fold. Cotsen recently pledged $10 million to UCLA's Archaeology Institute, a gift which, when added to a $7-million endowment he made in 1999, establishes him as the largest individual donor in the history of the College of Letters and Science.

Cotsen's early interest in ancient civilizations took him to excavations in Greece and graduate studies in archaeology, a field that he described as "an adventure story. The real thrill is being out there seeing and touching and feeling what remains of a group or culture. It gives you a different view of the world."

He went on to receive an M.B.A. at Harvard and moved into the business world, where he served as president and CEO of Neutrogena Corp. Currently, he heads Cotsen Management Corporation, a private investment firm. Throughout his career, he has nurtured the growth of archaeology at UCLA and the evolution of the discipline as a whole, said Anthropology Professor Charles Stanish, director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and holder of the Cotsen Chair in Archaeology.

"His endowment has transformed us from a small institute into one of the leading archaeology research centers in the world for the interdisciplinary study of ancient human societies," Stanish said.

This most recent contribution, Stanish continued, "gives the Cotsen Institute one of the largest endowments in the world for the study of archaeology. Lloyd Cotsen has ensured that archaeology at UCLA will thrive indefinitely, allowing us not only to study and preserve our global heritage, but to change people's lives positively through the practice of archaeology."

His contribution, Cotsen said, is based upon his belief that UCLA plays a vital role in the future of archaeology. "There's only one word I'd use: excellence," he said. "If you can't be the best, don't try. I think UCLA has the elements — vision and leadership — to take a strategic position in the field of archaeology."

The $10 million gift will support several major initiatives, including the recruitment of top faculty and graduate students, who will be able to embark upon projects and digs around the globe. His gift will also enable 10 undergraduates annually to take part in archaeological research and connect non-archaeology faculty with those at the institute, facilitating greater interdisciplinary research.

The endowment also establishes the Lloyd Cotsen Prize, similar to the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in scope and prestige, to honor a team of top archaeological scholars and graduate students from around the world.

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