Western University of Health Sciences held its first Giving Day on Sept. 7, 2021, a 24-hour fundraising challenge to support WesternU students. The online event, themed “We are ALL IN for our students,” brought in many first-time donors, established multiple endowed scholarships, and engaged colleges, alumni, faculty, staff and students in new ways. Giving Day raised more than $173,000 for student scholarship.

WesternU Senior Vice President for University Advancement Diane M. Abraham, PhD, CFRE, said she felt hopeful and inspired by the response to Giving Day.

“The successful event brings hope to our students. As a WesternU community, we are here for them and we are all in,” Abraham said. “There is hope that our supporters see the needs of our students and believe by helping them they will be providing the hope for the future of health care and building stronger communities.”

Nearly 300 donors participated, including WesternU alumni, Board of Trustees members, administration, faculty, staff, parents, friends, corporate partners, and students. Everyone could follow the Giving Day website as donations poured in live. Many challenges and matches made by members of the Board of Trustees, senior leadership, deans, faculty, and staff made it fun, exciting and inspiring.

College of Health Sciences Dean Dee Schilling, PT, PhD, FNAP, shared a message with her College in the middle of Giving Day: “Today is Giving Day – let us all join together and give so that we provide students with new beginnings. Every dollar counts and every dollar goes to students. Do not hesitate in giving – there is no amount that is too small.”

“I was thrilled and honored by the tremendously generous response from the College of Graduate Nursing faculty, staff, alumni and friends on Giving Day,” said College of Graduate Nursing Dean Mary Lopez RN, PhD. “I am so proud to work with all of you in support of our incredible students!”

Corporate participation included CooperVision, Covetrus, Inter Valley Health Plan, Mutual of America, Pacific Eye Institute, VSP Global, Direct Connection, and Premium Promotionals.

WesternU has participated in Giving Tuesday since 2016, held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Giving Day was a way to create a separate event that raised more awareness and funds, Abraham said.

“We wanted everyone to be all in for our students,” she said. “While it is important for WesternU to maintain a presence on Giving Tuesday, it is crucial that we develop and launch our own Day of Giving and do all we can to help our students, especially this year as the pandemic continues to impact their lives. We want to help our amazing students. After all, it is about our students and every penny does help them achieve their dreams and goals.”

WesternU surpassed its $100,000 goal at 2:43 p.m., but that was not the highlight of the day, Abraham said. “The best part of the day was seeing our supporters come together to make our goal,” she said. “Everyone was all in for making the day a success.”

Additional Giving Day highlights:

Robinson Celebrating Diversity Endowed Scholarship

COP Professor Daniel C. Robinson, PharmD, FASHP, fulfilled the endowment of his scholarship on Giving Day.

“To ensure that we maintain our commitment to a more diverse and inclusive environment, I have created the Robinson Celebrating Diversity Scholarship through a $35,000 endowment pledge,” Robinson said. “This scholarship seeks to recognize individuals who engage in meaningful efforts to support diversity and eliminate barriers to any marginalized or underrepresented population.”


CHS Department of Physical Therapy Education – Pomona Chair Harsha Deoghare, PT, PhD, with Doctor of Physical Therapy students.

Physical Therapy (PT) Student Scholarship Fund endowed

In preparation for Giving Day, CHS Department of Physical Therapy Education – Pomona Chair Harsha Deoghare, PT, PhD, sent this message to University Advancement:

“CHS faculty are working on a dollar-to-dollar matching challenge, and we should go further up the board soon both for the number of donors and the amount. I know every college is equally excited and we look forward to the final numbers,” he said. “Dean Schilling is our role model, and the culture of giving is evident in the outpouring of support from all at CHS.

Faculty and staff especially appreciate that every dollar will go directly to the student scholarship and strategic initiatives.”


Every year, Dr. Cundari sponsored multiple tables at WesternU’s A Tribute to Caring gala and invited COMP students to the event to give them an appreciation of the scholarship process and to encourage them to give back.

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) Paving the Future Fund endowed

Longtime COMP faculty member Alan Cundari, DO ’85, retired in June 2020, but he continued his passion for supporting COMP students by establishing the COMP Paving the Future Fund, which provides financial support for the initial equipment needs for first-year students. Over the course of the past year, Dr. Cundari was joined in building the fund by several generous donors, including Drs. Anita Nelson, Gregory Pecchia, Tony Khan, Kay Kalousek, and other COMP alumni, faculty, and staff. During WesternU’s inaugural Giving Day, the COMP community stepped up and fulfilled the remaining balance needed to endow the COMP Paving the Future Fund, which will ensure it helps in purchasing equipment for new COMP students forever. Dr. Cundari was thrilled to hear this news and happy that COMP students will now have this annual support secured in perpetuity.

“This is a great start in sustained support that pays it forward for our students and their future of health care excellence,” Cundari said.