Repaying His Eye Doctors (Sacramento)

  • Local Projects
  • 2016

Ernest Tschannen noticed in 2000 that his eyesight was failing, so he visited an eye clinic at the University of California at Davis, and later underwent successful surgery. In gratitude, he donated $25 to the university. But in addition to being a soft-spoken engineer, Tschannen proved to have a gift for investing. He made millions of dollars buying real estate (though he continued to live in a modest apartment even after becoming wealthy). So he was later able to give UC Davis $1.5 million so it could hire an optic-nerve specialist. And then in 2016, the 91-year-old donated $37 million so the university could unite all of its eye programs—which treat 55,000 local patients annually—in one new facility.