Kevin Beggs, president of the television group that produces Mad Men and Weeds, will speak at UCSC's 10th annual Scholarship Benefit Dinner, one of campus's premiere fundraising events.

The dinner will take place at 7 p.m., February 23, at the University Center on the UCSC campus. A reception starts at 6 p.m.

The Scholarship Benefit Dinner, also known as SBD, highlights community achievement while helping outstanding students fund their college educations.

The event has drawn attention and strong public support to UCSC's scholarship giving campaign, which has raised more than $23 million—with 7,948 donors and 21,673 gifts—over the past decade.

Beggs (Porter '89, politics/theater arts) is an active advocate on behalf of the campus and entertainment industry alumni, and a member of the Arts Dean's Leadership Board. His company, Lionsgate Television Group, is one of the most reliable producers of influential television programming.

Last year, Beggs spoke with UCSC Review magazine about his life on the edge, and what it's like to follow his gut instincts in a hyper-competitive market.

"I still feel, as a smaller company, we have to be bigger risk-takers creatively. We have to call bigger and longer shots," said Beggs, who is responsible for developing and producing original series, movies for TV, limited series, and reality shows for Lionsgate. "We have had great success with projects that other people would not do. I would not want to be known as the company that passed on something like Mad Men and Weeds."

The night's other featured speaker is Santa Cruz attorney Edison Jensen (Oakes '86, politics and international relations). The first in his family to attend college, Jensen was inspired to pursue social justice in the area of health care while at UCSC. Since graduating, he has immersed himself in social justice issues involving low-income people and farm workers in the Pajaro Valley and Santa Cruz County, and has provided services regarding health care for the poor on a pro bono basis.

Growing need

SBD provides urgently needed support for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships in an effort to help students attain their fullest academic potential.

Because of reductions in state support, more students than ever now need financial assistance to attend the university, and in recent years, low- and middle-income families have been particularly hard-hit by increased costs.

Since its creation, SBD has addressed this growing need, while featuring an array of distinguished UCSC alumni speakers, including Susan Wojcicki (M.S. applied economics, '93), senior vice president of advertising at Google, and Kathryn Sullivan (Cowell ’73), the first American woman to walk in space.

The need to raise money for scholarships remains pressing and urgent, said Gary Novack (Kresge '73), a longtime supporter of UCSC scholarships, as well as a former UC Santa Cruz Foundation board president, past president of the UCSC Alumni Association, and a UC Regent from 2003 to 2005.

Seventy percent of UCSC students require financial aid. More than one-third are from underrepresented groups. Half of the incoming frosh last fall were first-generation students whose parents haven't earned a four-year degree.

Older alumni were given great opportunities and had strong financial support from the state of California, said Novack, who is president of PharmaLogic Development.

Novack, his parents, his sister, and his wife all graduated from the UC system. Since then, the UCs have witnessed an erosion of public support, he said.

 "As I say, there can be no politics about scholarships," he said. "The only question should be, 'How much can we give?'"

The SBD co-chairs are Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant (Porter '94, biology) and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend (Porter '01, history).

Register here for the event. The cost is $200 per ticket; $100 of the ticket price goes to a student scholarship of your choice.