Oceanside Donor Helps Harvard

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Oceanside woman has donated $7 million to Harvard University to renovate a historic hall--part of a five-year, $50-million face lift on the Cambridge, Mass., campus.

Construction of the Katherine Bogdanovich Loker Commons on the lower level of Memorial Hall will coincide with the restoration of the late-Victorian lecture auditorium, built in the 1870s.

A USC alumna, Loker is the widow of Donald P. Loker, a 1925 Harvard graduate and a Universal Pictures movie star in the 1930s. She is heir to the founder of Star-Kist Foods, Martin Bogdanovich.

The grant was announced at a Thursday dinner in Memorial Hall. Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine gave Mrs. Loker a university proclamation of gratitude.

"Mrs. Loker's extraordinary generosity will make the Commons possible," Rudenstine said in a statement issued Friday by the university.

Harvard's new commons will provide a central area where students can gather informally. The commons is designed to house a lounge, meeting rooms, music rehearsal rooms, and a late-night cafe to serve patrons of the theater in Memorial Hall.

Renovation of the hall is scheduled to run from May, 1994, to September, 1995.

Loker's philanthropic net runs deep. She and her husband established in 1983 a professorship under their names in the English department at Harvard and, later, a chemistry professorship at USC.

In 1990, Loker gave energy scientists at USC a boost with a $7-million gift for a research center. Before the recent Harvard grant, their donations to educational and cultural projects totaled more than $11 million.

"Personally, I would rather give to support education than almost anything else," Loker said.

Since her husband's death in 1988, Loker has continued her philanthropy. Closer to home, she sponsored students from Reynolds Elementary School in Oceanside to travel to Sacramento, where they performed a rap song on child abuse for the governor.

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