Skip directly to: Main page content

UC Davis Magazine

Volume 31 · Number 1 · Fall 2013

The Campaign for UC Davis: Inspired gifts

The small moments in life have the biggest ripple effects.

young girl plays a grand piano

Grace Zhou, winner of the Junior Division Piano Award in the 2011 Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition, performs a solo during the 2012 UC Davis Convocation at the Mondavi Center. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

John and Lois Crowe trace their passions in life to simple moments. Their love of the arts started with small events during childhood — for John, hearing the North Carolina Symphony play in his rural North Carolina community when he was 8 years old; for Lois, taking a school bus trip as a girl to downtown Los Angeles to see children’s programs performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Their love of each other began early in their scientific careers at UC Davis. Lois was a graduate student on campus when John joined the faculty and moved into the lab next door. From there grew a friendship, then a courtship, then a marriage. So did a decades-long research collaboration in molecular and cellular biology. Together, they invented a number of biomedical products, the patents for which have been top revenue producers for UC Davis for many years.

Their desire to give to UC Davis arose from their lifelong involvement in both the sciences and the arts. The couple has donated time and resources to both for decades. For example, in 2005 the Davis couple attended a recital by young music students at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The Crowes were so moved by the performance that they made a donation to support the program. Their donations, and those of two other donors, enabled the program’s director to transform the recital into a Young Artists Competition. Part of the Mondavi Center’s Young Artists Program, the competition highlights the talents of young classical musicians who range from elementary school to college age. It has grown each year and is holding auditions this fall in seven cities nationwide.

“We’re proud of the extraordinarily high quality of the programming at the Mondavi Center and that we can be part of the support necessary to enrich life in this community through these performances,” said Lois, who along with John makes annual gifts and created an endowment to support the program.

The couple drinking red wine

Donors Lois and John Crowe

On another occasion in 2006, after retiring from her research position, Lois was volunteering as a docent at the UC Davis Arboretum when she noticed the garden at the downtown Davis Commons retail center was missing a few elements typically found in a Mediterranean-style garden. She and John approached arboretum director Kathleen Socolofsky about funding a renovation. When the garden reopened in May 2007, it had vine-covered pergolas, decorative paving and cooling fountains. John dedicated the garden to his wife, naming it the Lois Crowe Patio.

“These are not people who just write the check,” Socolofsky said. “They really want to be involved. They believed in the possibilities of the university and they help other people believe in us too. They give from the heart.”

Now, through an estate gift to support the Young Artist Program and the UC Davis Arboretum, the Crowes are ensuring that their legacy will allow others to experience the special moments they created during their lifetime.

“By making a planned gift, we are helping to provide sound financial underpinning not only for the parts of the community we love, such as the Mondavi Center and the arboretum, but also to help provide these opportunities for the next generation,” Lois said.

“This is our community,” John added, “and we feel this is part of our responsibility to give back.”

Back to Campaign: "Investing in young scientists"