College of Health awarded $15 million from AltaMed

Taylor Fukunaga
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne has just received its largest donation in University history. 

Last month, AltaMed Health Services Corporation gifted the University $15 million to construct the newest facility for the College of Health and Community Well-Being in Ontario.

The College will be named after AltaMed’s president and CEO Cástulo de la Rocha, who said that in an effort to resolve the large demand for nurses, physician assistants, and bilingual clinical social workers, creating a natural pipeline to train healthcare professionals is crucial. 

“The donation from AltaMed will be spread out over three years, and $5 million will be used each year,” Dean of the College of Health and Community Well-Being Kathy Duncan said. “The construction of the new state-of-the-art facility is a part of the University’s strategic plan and is considered to be transformational.”

AltaMed is the largest unaffiliated non-profit federally qualified center in California. It receives federal funds to operate in underserved communities to provide healthcare without concern for a patient’s ability to pay.

With over 4,200 employees, AltaMed’s mission is dedicated to addressing the needs of social determinants of health in Southern California’s underserved communities. 

Duncan said the implementation will help the new college increase students, programs, and services in underserved communities. 

“I first read about the donation on the University’s Instagram page, and it felt good knowing that the need for more healthcare professionals are important, especially during this time of shortage,” sophomore Biology major, Jaidynn Alvarez , said.

Alvarez said she is interested in going into a healthcare or medical-related field, so she is thankful to have a new dedicated space to work on her craft, should she choose to pursue a career in healthcare. 

“I believe that the College of Health has continued to make a positive change in our community in a culturally informed way, which is why I like the vision behind AltaMed’s work,” said Chase Love, doctoral student in psychology.

Love said that while he may not be here to see the new facility up and running, he is excited for all the good things that will come out of it for future students. 

Duncan quoted former University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman using the phrase:  “The brain remained.” It references the idea of drawing students  to the University from surrounding areas, who seek to be educated to return to practice and serve their communities.

Having 74% of AltaMed employees live within a five-mile radius of the communities they serve, Duncan and de la Rocha said that the missions of the College of Health and AltaMed are similar.

De la Rocha is now the first Latino leader to have a health college named in his honor. 

“It has been a truly humbling experience…I am honored,” De la Rocha said. 

As a trailblazer and advocate for the Latino community, he has dedicated 46 years to AltaMed to eliminate the disparities his patients deal with. 

“I would do it all over again,” De la Rocha said. 

The construction of the new Cástulo de la Rocha College of Health and Community Well-Being is set to begin in early 2024 and be completed by August 2025 in Ontario next to the University’s College of Law and Public Service.

Taylor Fukunaga can be reached at taylor.fukunaga@laverne.edu

Taylor Fukunaga is a staff writer for the Campus Times. She is a sophomore communications major with a concentration in public relations.

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