When Reza Abbaszadeh left his native home of Tehran in the early 1980s at the age of 17 and arrived at UC Davis with a student visa in hand, he remembers being struck by the generosity of professors and staff members who helped ease his transition into college and a new country.
Since then Abbaszadeh has discovered that Americans give their money and time in a way he hasn’t seen elsewhere. Inspired by this, Abbaszadeh — now a dentist and self-made businessman — has decided to give back to UC Davis.
“Generosity is something I appreciate and I think it’s a terrific thing in the United States that has influenced me,” said Abbaszadeh, the president and chief executive officer of Sacramento-based Access Dental and Premier Access Insurance Company. “I hope I can do more of it as time goes by.”
In 2006, Abbaszadeh gave more than $100,000 to the Graduate School of Management (GSM) to sponsor five students from Sharif University of Technology — Iran’s premiere university — to spend a quarter studying in UC Davis’ MBA program.
In addition, Abbaszadeh gave $250,000 to name the largest classroom in Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr. Hall, the new home of the GSM, in memory of his late father, Ali Abbaszadeh. Abbaszadeh’s father was a tea distributor in Iran who, although he never earned a college degree himself, encouraged Reza Abbaszadeh and Reza’s five siblings to pursue higher education.
“One of my objectives is to learn more about the university” Abbaszadeh said, “and to understand how I and others can help the campus more.”