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Capital Campaign May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

What’s Next
Q&A with Gary Curtis, ’69

   
     

Many of us can point to a disappointment in our lives which, looking back, might have been the best thing that could have happened. For Gary Curtis, Revelle, ’69, it was losing out on
a job with a pharmaceutical company shortly after graduation. Gary hadn’t made the cut because the recruiter had recognized something in him that Gary himself didn’t know: “He said I wouldn’t stick around, that I was too entrepreneurial. Best words I ever heard.”

Gary went on to participate in the creation of eight startup companies in the medical technology field. Today he and his wife, Kathy, live in Los Altos, California; he is president and CEO of Concentric Medical Inc., based in nearby Mountain View. Gary has been very generous to UCSD students, starting with the Thomas E. Curtis Endowed Scholarship he established to honor his father, and through his annual donations to the Chancellor’s Challenge 5K. Gary also donates time to his alma mater, serving as a trustee of the UC San Diego Foundation.

How did UCSD influence your career?
The reason why I have 37 years in the startup medical device industry is because I attended a startup college. While I thought I was headed for a science career, what I was really interested in was the creation of a culture. I was in the second graduating class so I helped create the first student government and some of the first intramural sports. I was the first student activities director and we created the first social fraternity. So I became enamored with the people process. After graduation I went right into business as a sales rep for a brand new company with a brand new product: total hip and total knee replacement devices.

You’ve said that creating scholarships for UCSD students is where your heart is.
I had the good fortune of having my education paid for by my father, but other people I knew struggled. So the first philanthropic gift I gave was to endow a scholarship in my father’s name in 1990. The endowment is for upperclassmen science majors thinking of going into business. I’ve always had great pleasure receiving letters from my scholarship recipients, which I used to forward to my father. I’ve also contributed each year to the Chancellor’s Challenge 5K Run/Walk for Scholars because those funds go to scholarships.

If someone asks you what an endowment is, what do you tell them?
An endowment is a gift of a sum of money, and the interest from that gift is an evergreen payout.

What’s next?
Spending more time on my weekend passions: my hobby vineyard in Sonoma and on my bicycle visiting places I have not yet been.


 

RELATED LINKS

Concentric Medical
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UCSD Student Scholarships
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Sports played at UCSD: Intramural flag football

Toughest class: Physical Chemistry

Miss the most about San Diego: The beach

Don’t miss at all about San Diego: Traffic

 
 
To learn more about supporting undergraduates, call (858) 822-1536 or email kspaar@ucsd.edu