Donor Spotlight: Robert Gould

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We get tremendous satisfaction learning about our supporters, and especially what motivates them to do good in our community. Today's post is our exchange with Professor Robert Gould, who is the Undergraduate Vice Chair of Statistics at UCLA, and Director of the Center for Teaching Statistics. He has shown a profound commitment for teaching and mentoring students, and he has demonstrated an endless compassion for the students who rely on our shelter. His  extravagant example of generosity and kindness inspired us to share his story. 

Where are you from, and what do you do?

I was born in Whittier, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. Since 1994 I have taught at UCLA first in the Division of Statistics (which was part of the math department) and then in the Department of Statistics, which was founded in 1998.

What attracted you to the cause of student homelessness?

Los Angeles is an expensive place to live, and undergraduate life can be stressful enough without the added stress of having to think about where you will spend the night. I was struck by an article in the Daily Bruin a couple of years ago about homeless students, and was impressed that students were able to create Bruin Shelter as a response to that need.

What attracted you to Bruin Shelter, in particular?

I like the fact that it's students helping their fellow students.

What was your most meaningful memory from college?

When I think back (way back) to those days, I'm alway struck by the amount of help and support I got from my friends, professors, staff, and my family. At the time, it just seemed I was working really hard, but looking back, I see I had lots and lots of help.

As a professor who teaches and interacts with students everyday, tell us a bit about your unique perspective on the issue of college homelessness.

I would hope that college could be a time for students to focus on their studies, building relationships among their peers, and planning for their future and, really, for the future of our society. I believe strongly that students should be supported so that they aren't distracted by the need to find food or housing.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

That I'm a cellist and surprisingly mediocre, given the years I've spent at it.

Why do you think student homelessness should be a priority for the Los Angeles community?

When I was in graduate school at UC San Diego in the late 80's and early 90's, tuition and fees totaled about $1296, a little more than $2500 adjusting for inflation. Since then, the state of California has backed away from its commitment to fund education, and this has burdened students and their families. Given the lack of state support and the high cost of living in L.A., it's not surprising that student housing is a challenge. But it's a challenge that can be met.

Thank you Robert for dedicating your career to believing in young people; we need more mentors like yourself!

Michelle Ross