Why I Give: William P. Sullivan ’72
Corporate leader explains what drives his philanthropy.
Alumnus and UC Davis supporter William P. Sullivan ’72, the CEO of Agilent Technologies, at the commencement ceremony for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in June 2011.
(Cheng Saechao/UC Davis)
Interview by Angela Hokanson
William P. Sullivan ’72 is the president and chief executive officer of Agilent Technologies, Inc., a Fortune 500 business recognized as one of the world’s leading measurement companies. He is a member of the Campaign Cabinet, a distinguished group of volunteer leaders who are providing guidance to the university during The Campaign for UC Davis. Bill and his wife, Linda, recently established the William and Linda Sullivan Environmental Sciences Scholarship, which will support students studying environmental sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. They are also UC Davis Chancellor’s Club members and provide flexible funding to the university through their gifts to the UC Davis Annual Fund.
Why do you give to UC Davis?
I am proud to be an alumnus of UC Davis, a great institution. This university provided me with the educational foundation for a lifetime of learning, including critical thinking skills and broad-based management skills. I am one of UC Davis’ biggest fans.
You give to support students studying environmental sciences. Why?
The sustainability of our environment is one of the biggest issues facing society today. The environment is also a priority at Agilent, which is ranked as one of the most sustainable companies in the world and is a leading provider of scientific measurement equipment for the environmental testing market. For decades, UC Davis has been the unquestioned leader in environmental and agricultural research and teaching, and is uniquely qualified to address tomorrow’s challenges in this area. It is an honor for me to support undergraduate and graduate students who will be the leaders of the future.
You also make unrestricted gifts to UC Davis. What motivates these contributions?
As a corporate leader, I understand the need to move quickly to seize new opportunities as they arise. Unrestricted gifts allow UC Davis to do just that, by giving the chancellor the flexibility to respond quickly as needs change and opportunities emerge.
Why have you chosen to dedicate your time and energy as a volunteer leader in The Campaign for UC Davis?
I’m happy to be part of the campaign, both as an alumnus and as a leader of a Fortune 500 company. The success of the campaign will go a long way toward expanding the university’s capacity for fundamental research and education.
There is a strong collaborative spirit throughout UC Davis. As a result, UC Davis is poised to play a unique and critical role to help bridge disciplines and seed innovation. This interdisciplinary culture provides the perfect setting for the environmental teaching and research that is important to me personally.
Speaking as the leader of Agilent, we strongly believe in collaboration between business and academia and pick our university partners carefully. Increasingly, solutions for the world’s most important problems will require multiple disciplines, so UC Davis becomes the natural choice in areas where it has national preeminence. Lead scientists within Agilent have already established several successful collaborations with the university in areas such as electronics, photonics, life science and food safety, due to UC Davis’ stellar reputation in areas of mutual interest.
Angela Hokanson is development and campaign communications manager.
This article was originally published in UC Davis Magazine.