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Bus bench ad executive's estate gives $50 million to UCLA medical school

Norman Switzer, founder of a bus bench advertising firm, and wife donate $50 million to @UCLA medical school

The estate of a bus bench advertising executive and his wife is giving $50 million to UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, officials announced Thursday.

As a result, a health sciences plaza at the school is being renamed after Irma and Norman Switzer, the late benefactors who were longtime residents of Pacific Palisades.

“This exceptionally generous gift is an enduring legacy of two people who clearly cared about the future of medicine and science,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. “The university is honored to be the steward of such a transformative bequest.”

Norman Switzer, who died in 2011 at the age of 84, founded Norman Bench Advertising, which specialized in bus bench ads, and later became a real estate investor. Irma Switzer, who died in 2013 at 93, was a weaver and involved in local museums.

The Switzer gift will count toward the $4.2-billion fundraising campaign -- the largest such effort of any state university in the nation -- that UCLA announced in May to increase student financial aid, bolster faculty hiring and research, and construct new campus buildings.

In trying to reach that goal by 2019, UCLA said in May that it already had raised about $1.3 billion in a so-called quiet phase. The campaign ties in with UCLA's centennial in 2019, marking 100 years since Angelenos battled the Berkeley-centric education establishment and got the Legislature to approve a southern branch of the University of California.

The largest donation in UCLA’s history was entertainment industry mogul Geffen's $200-million gift to the medical school in 2002.

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @larrygordonlat

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