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The Campaign for UC Davis

Office of University Development

UC Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-5270

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The Soderquist way: Empowering individuals and organizations

Photo: Tom J.D. ’75 and Meg ’68 Stallard

Meg ’68 and Tom ’68, J.D. ’75 Stallard

(Cheng Saechao/UC Davis)

by Mark Hoyer

The Stallards — Tom ’68, J.D. ’75 and Meg ’68 — are legendary among UC Davis alumni for their enthusiasm for UC Davis: enthusiam for what the university has meant to them as students and alumni and long-term volunteers; enthusiasm for the amazing advances UC Davis has fostered in the arts and sciences, in improved nutrition and food supply for people all over the world; and enthusiasm for the future that lies ahead.

That passion for UC Davis is one of the characteristics that the Stallards — the winners of the 2011 Charles J. Soderquist Award — have in common with the award’s namesake, the late Charles Soderquist, who was commonly known as Charlie. The Charles J. Soderquist Award recognizes exceptional volunteer leadership and support of philanthropy at UC Davis, and honors UC Davis supporters whose efforts as volunteers have made a significant and lasting impact on the university. The Stallards also share in Soderquist’s vision, which, according to Charlie’s son Chris Soderquist, was “to empower individuals and organizations to make differences I cannot.”

The vision of Soderquist, who was a well known Sacramento-area entrepreneur, educator and philanthropist, influenced many UC Davis volunteers and donors over the years, including the Stallards. According to Meg, Soderquist had the power to motivate people to stretch themselves: “He was one of those people who inspired us to do more, to give more.”

Photo: Four people standing together

Above (L-R): Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Tom ’68, J.D. ’75 and Meg ’68 Stallard, and Kevin Bacon ’72, Chair of the UC Davis Foundation

(Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Soderquist, who earned an M.S. in 1973 and a Ph.D. in 1978 in agricultural and environmental chemistry from UC Davis, focused much of his energy and enthusiasm on advancing the cause of his alma mater, to which he had, in the words of the Sacramento Business Journal, an “abiding devotion.” He died in 2004, after a successful career founding and leading several dozen companies, including California Analytical Laboratories, an environmental consulting and testing firm that became a multimillion-dollar business. After that business merged with another firm, Soderquist started growing young technology companies through his Technology Development Center in West Sacramento. He used his investment business to provide seed money to jump start high-tech companies in the area.

Soderquist was a major donor to UC Davis during his lifetime and he supported the university through a significant bequest. He was a faculty member in the Graduate School of Management (GSM) and he served as a UC Regent, chair of the UC Davis Foundation, president of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association and member of the GSM’s Dean’s Advisory Council, and had numerous other connections with the campus. Posthumously he was awarded the UC Davis Medal — the highest honor the campus accords to individuals for their contributions to the university or the broader community.

To honor Soderquist’s memory and example, the Trustees of the UC Davis Foundation in 2005 established the Charles J. Soderquist Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize that recipients award to the university program or area of their choice. The recipients of the award are:

  • Charlie Soderquist, who was awarded the prize posthumously in 2005. The award was received by Chris Soderquist and the prize money was given to Professor Andy Hargadon in support of his research at the Graduate School of Management;
  • Retired Oakland Raiders center and Auburn resident Jim Otto, who was chair of the UC Davis Cancer Center’s Capital and Endowment Initiative and who used the award to support the UC Davis Cancer Center Initiative (2006);
  • Michael M.D. ’58 and Betty Chapman, major donors to the UC Davis Health System, who donated their award to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (2007);
  • Barbara Jackson, an arts patron who gave $5 million to help build the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Jackson contributed her award to the Barbara K. Jackson Graduate Fellowship in Student Conducting (2008);
  • Hal ’52 and Carol ’04 Sconyers, who gave generously to a broad range of UC Davis programs over the years. The Sconyers awarded the prize to the Cal Aggie Alumni Association (2009);
  • Wayne ’64, J.D ’71 and Jacque ’64 Bartholomew, who over the years have provided generous financial support and volunteer leadership to a diverse range of UC Davis programs, representing nearly every area of the university. The Bartholomews used their prize money to advance the efforts of the Chancellor’s Hate-Free Campus Initiative (2010).

This remarkable group of Soderquist award winners has given nearly $10.5 million in personal donations and they have been responsible for the raising of countless millions more in philanthropic support to UC Davis.

The Stallards say that it is individuals such as these who have often motivated them to do even more. They decided to give the monetary prize that accompanies the Soderquist award to benefit Picnic Day, with the hope that it will help refocus the event on its original purpose — to provide a day of fun that unites campus and community and showcases the many important contributions that UC Davis is making in the region, across the nation and around the world.

The many important contributions the Stallards have made to UC Davis include philanthropic support for a broad array of projects and initiatives as well as thousands of volunteer hours across various campus and school boards. Meg has served as chair of the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees, and Tom has served as president of the law school’s alumni association and as a Foundation Trustee. They were chosen to be parade marshals of Picnic Day in 2010. They began their history of philanthropy with gifts ranging from $5 to $20 in the late ’60s and early ’70s. When resources permitted and their children were grown, they became more active. In 1990 they became UC Davis Chancellor’s Club members, joining other supporters who give $1,000 or more annually to the UC Davis Annual Fund, and they later served together as chairs of the Chancellor’s Club. In 2000 they established the Tom and Meg Stallard Scholarship in the Cal Aggie Alumni Association to support freshmen or transfer students who graduate from Pioneer High School in Woodland, California, or are from Woodland — where the Stallards reside — and who show exceptional leadership qualities.

“We are humbled that we may have followed Charlie’s example by being interested in a variety of projects and initiatives around campus,” said Tom. “Charlie used his resources and his influence for the civic good. He was always pitching balls, always thinking of new things. He spread enthusiasm and passion wherever he went.”

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi thanked the Stallards for their many contributions to the university as they were presented with the Soderquist award on May 13.

“Universities do well and move forward and become successful because of alumni like Tom and Meg,” Katehi said.