By Emily Chang
Graphic by Javier Vargas
On Sept. 8, President Richard Yao announced in a campus global a $30 million gift to CI – welcome news amid budget challenges due to decreased enrollment. CI is the sole beneficiary of the Philippe and Arlette Larraburu estate, with no restrictions on how to use the gift.
Philippe Larraburu was born in Paris, France, helping his mother during World War II after his father’s passing. He later earned several degrees in optical engineering before moving to Germany for further training. There he met his wife, then Arlette Janet Pioro, a French translator for the United States Corps of Engineers.
After the couple married in Paris, they moved to the United States, settled in Ventura County and built their dream home. Philippe Larraburu worked on creating specialized lenses for the film industry, and then on lenses for industrial use and weather satellites after opening his own optical lab.
The Larraburus have been supporters of CI since its earliest days as members of the Legacy Society and through their annual support. CI’s benefaction of the couple’s estate was established in 2001 but was not revealed to the University until Arlette Larraburu’s passing in 2014, when her husband donated some equipment to the physics department. He then moved to Oxnard where he resided until his passing in Oct. 2021.
President Yao explained in the campus global that although philanthropic support cannot sustain the recurring expenses faced by the University, it is crucial during periods of financial difficulty like now. As CI braces for reduced allocation of permanent, recurring dollars, this gift will help balance that decreased budget with the need to fund plans for long-term growth.
The details of how the funding will be allocated are not finalized yet, but President Yao described that “capital projects are [his] priority for how to make the most impactful, long-term use of the Larraburus’ gift.” For example, there is a gap in funding for the Early Childhood Care & Education Center, despite great local support and state funds, which the gift could help bridge.
With thanks to Philippe and Arlette Larraburu, the University can take a quick breath as it navigates obstacles in the budget. Future enrollment will be a testament to the efficacy of the University’s use of the gift and will hopefully honor the Larraburus’ “belief in the transformative power of higher education and their confidence in CSUCI’s capacity to have a transformative impact on the students, communities, and employers of our region.”