Cal Football Head Coaching Position Endowed
Spanning four generations, almost 100 years and attendance at 98 Big Games, the Travers family represents an unparalleled passion for and commitment to the University of California. The family continues to embody the University's culture of academic and athletic excellence with a $10 million commitment from the Travers Family Foundation to UC Berkeley's Light the Way campaign.
The Travers have made a $7.5 million commitment to endow the Travers Family Head Football Coach, providing essential resources for Cal football to ensure a world-class program, an exceptional coaching staff and a continued positive impact on student-athletes. In addition, the family has made a $2.5 million commitment to augment its endowment for the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science that supports this preeminent, nationally-ranked department.
"Endowing our football head coach position will be remembered as an important milestone in Cal football history," said Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton. "We are extremely grateful for the family's visionary leadership and ongoing partnership to support the long-term success of our future leaders and our football program. Their generosity further elevates Cal as a destination school for elite student-athletes looking to thrive in Berkeley before pursuing their post-graduation dreams."
Colonel Charles T. Travers '32 and his wife, Louise '33, who met as undergraduates in a political science class at Cal during the Great Depression, were the inspiration for the Travers family's latest gifts. In 2004, the former U.S. Army Colonel pledged $16 million to Berkeley — to create an endowment and name the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science and to support core priorities for Cal football.
The late Travers patriarch shared his excitement for the family's momentous contribution in 2004: "In making this gift, it is my intention to serve the University and its faculty, students and coaches and to enable it to sustain its position as the nation's and the world's greatest university. I desire that the foregoing commitment to political science and Cal football be utilized so that this objective may be fully accomplished."
Chuck '58 and Beth Travers '57 said the family's latest gift to the University continues Colonel Travers' transformative commitment to support exceptional experiences for Cal students.
Over the years, the Travers family has also provided support for the renovation of California Memorial Stadium, helped to create the Travers Student-Athlete Study Center in the Simpson High Performance Center, provided foundational support for audio-visual technology used by coaches, and created two endowed Cal football scholarships in 1986 and 2019 that are currently held by standout student-athletes Michael Saffell and Daniel Scott.
Before his undergraduate days, Colonel Travers developed a passion for Cal football. He even attended the funeral of Cal football head coach Andy Smith (coach from 1916-25) on his own as a teenager by taking a ferry and a trolley from San Francisco. Colonel Travers celebrated his 95th birthday in 2005 with the entire football team singing "Happy Birthday" to him. He passed away the following month — 13 days before Cal coasted to a 27-3 victory over Stanford in the Big Game. Louise Travers passed away in 1995 at the age of 82.
"Cal has given us so much, and we want to be able to give back," Beth Travers acknowledged. "We feel privileged and blessed to be able to do that. It happens that all of us feel the same way. It goes back to honoring the original commitment."
Nancy Travers Lucas '83, a third-generation Cal graduate, hopes her family's latest gift will encourage others to support University programs that mean the most to them.
"If you have benefited from being at Cal or another institution or program you have been associated with, you want to give back in whatever way," she explained. "It is a wonderful opportunity to inspire others whether it is through time, money or a leadership gift like this. Put your money where your values are. We value what the head coaching leadership fund does. Justin [Wilcox] has been an amazing coach, and he has brought alongside an amazing staff to inspire these young athletes in ways that will stay with them for the rest of their lives."
Wilcox is inspired by the Travers family's generosity and hopes it will motivate others to be champions for their favorite Golden Bear teams.
"It is a tremendous honor to be the Travers Family Head Football Coach," said Wilcox, who will enter his fifth season at the helm this fall. "This endowment will bolster the upward trajectory of Cal football on the national stage and will help sustain our commitment to providing our student-athletes with the best opportunities to excel in the classroom and on the field."
Football joins field hockey, men's golf and men's tennis as Cal's programs with endowed head coach positions and distinguishes the Bears as one of only two Pac-12 schools with this level of support for its football head coach.
The Travers family is a tight-knit group, and Cal football games, campus events and lectures — including the annual Travers Conference in Ethics and Accountability in Government hosted by the Institute for Governmental Studies — are focal points of the family's lives. Chuck and Beth and their son, Todd, and his wife, Gayle, live near each other in Greenbrae, California. Nancy lives in Oregon but makes time to return to her alma mater. Every new addition to the Travers family is exposed from a young age to the rich history and traditions of Golden Bear football.
Gayle has found her husband's family's love affair with Cal contagious.
"The one thing that is special to me about Cal is the longstanding tradition of the family and the University," she stated. "I appreciate being included in it. You really get caught up in it. It is always exciting, always fun and always worthwhile."
Time spent in Strawberry Canyon watching the Bears at California Memorial Stadium or traveling across the bay to Stanford for the Big Game in alternate years has always been a high priority for the Travers family. Only the delivery of his son, Chuck, was justification for Colonel Travers to not attend the Big Game in person.
Colonel Travers even jokingly asked a friend of his on the California Supreme Court to rule on whether he could count attending a game as a baby as one of the 82 Big Games he witnessed. The justice said yes!
"He always liked that story," Chuck chimed in.
Could Charles and Louise Travers have predicted that Cal would link the family together into the 21st century and beyond? It would not be hard to speculate that the answer would be a resounding yes.
After the fabric of Cal football and the University was woven into the Travers family's tapestry while Charles '32 and Louise '33 were undergraduates, the next generations of Travers have grown up bleeding blue and gold. Chuck '58 and his wife, Beth '57, grew up near each other and started dating at Cal in the 1950s. Their children, Nancy '83 and Todd and his wife, Gayle, cultivated their own love of Cal and continued the family's devotion to helping student-athletes reach their full potential. Todd and Gayle's son, Trace '14, and their daughter, Justine '08, and Nancy's daughter, Chelsea '13, who coxed for Cal men's rowing, have also carried on the family's inseparable ties to Cal Athletics and the University.
In addition to investing financially in Cal football, Todd has been volunteering with the program for many years by supporting audio-visual/coaching communications systems. He has seen firsthand the development of the program and is a strong advocate of Cal's head football coach.
"Justin is doing an excellent job," Todd noted. "He has the right temperament, does things the right way and has great leadership skills. He inspires you to be your best every day. You want to work hard for Justin."
Beyond athletics, Chuck echoed his family's pride in the strength of the academics at Cal and how his degree from Berkeley shaped his life.
"I have always been very proud to be a College of Engineering graduate from UC Berkeley," Chuck beamed. "My father and I both thought our degrees from Cal were valuable and served us well. I have much appreciation for my degree being from the No. 1 public university."
Nancy shares her parents' deep appreciation for the education she received at Cal.
"Growing up going to Berkeley as a child and hearing about all of the traditions from my grandparents, it was exciting to be part of something that I thought was so exceptional," Nancy recalled. "I had such an exceptional education and took classes from people who are world- class academics. Then having a daughter who was a student-athlete go there was very exciting."
Optimism abounds for the Travers family as the Golden Bears train for the fall football season.
"With the players that we have coming back, I feel really good about our chances against everybody and making a Rose Bowl run," Todd added.
The Travers family will be there in person — assuming health conditions allow — to cheer on the Bears, and reaffirm its deep commitment to our football student-athletes and the vitality of the University.