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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Gerry McAllister, Muir ’72, M.F.A.’74


We all know the importance of social networking, but few know it quite as well as Geraldine “Gerry” McAllister, the very first dues-paying member of the UCSD Alumni Association.

McAllister was president of the Alumni Association board from 1988-1990, during the transition to a dues-paying, member-based association, and is proud of having written the first check to become a Life Member. “I didn’t even wait for the vote,” she says. “I just wrote the check.”

Not that she was ever one to wait around for anything—she’s been making things happen since she stepped onto campus as a visual arts major in 1970. Back then, she says, there weren’t even art studios for students to use; so at the request of Manny Farber, she went over to the Del Mar fairgrounds and rented out the chicken coops for students to paint in.

McAllister attended UCSD around the same time as her two children. She even took an oceanography class with her daughter though she had to work much harder, she says. “When I did ­biology in high school, we did bug and leaf collections. That was before DNA.”

After graduating with her M.F.A., McAllister worked as ­director and curator of the Mandeville Art Gallery for 25 years. She had a budget of only $2,000 per show, but started a support group for the gallery and, through her connections, was able to display some of the most exciting art of the 20th century, including the first west coast show of Frida Kahlo’s work.

McAllister still visits UCSD all the time, and says she has ­enjoyed watching it grow from a tiny and socially stunted campus. “I love the fact that there is now such a diverse student body,” she adds. “It wasn’t like that when I was there.”

McAllister has lived in Pacific Beach with her husband for over 45 years, and has served on ­several boards and committees for the promotion of the arts in San Diego. But she always makes time to come home to UCSD and do what she does best—meet people and make friends.

This is the third in a series profiling the Alumni Association’s lifetime members. Join Matt and thousands of others for as little as $45 per year. For more information, visit alumni.ucsd.edu/membership.

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