White Makes $1.5 Million Gift For Wellness Center
Paul White has spent his professional career setting himself apart as a distinguished anesthesiologist and medical researcher.
Now, he'd like to do his part in setting Cal's football program apart from other programs in the country.
White recently made a $1.5 million gift to fund the Paul F. White Innovation and Wellness Center in California Memorial Stadium. The center will serve as a headquarters for Cal's football players to obtain healthy nutritional snacks and receive innovative treatments to facilitate recovery from football-related injuries in a state-of-the-art training room. In addition, the center will also provide a relaxing 'rest and recovery' area with sleep pods and massage chairs, as well as space to teach the importance of mental well-being and preparedness utilizing the latest mindfulness techniques. These facilities will allow the players and the team to compete at the highest level.
"I wanted to do something for the athletic program that would set us apart from any of the other programs in the country," said White, who graduated from Cal in 1970 with a degree in biochemistry and is the younger brother of former Cal football legend Ed White. "The idea of a wellness center which not only focused on the obvious things like nutrition, training and physical therapy, but also on the mental aspects of athletics - I was just trying to think of a way that I could combine my background and interest in medicine and health care and athletics, and I came up with the idea that doing something that would help them better understand ways that they can improve their lifestyle and overall health, and in a sense improve the competitive nature of the team."
The Paul F. White Innovation and Wellness Center will be located at the north end of the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance and will replace existing space in the area with state-of-the-art technology and applied science.
"This gift from Paul White will have a huge impact on the student-athletes in our football program," Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. "The focus on wellness – both physical and mental – has never been more important, and the Paul F. White Innovation and Wellness Center will give our student-athletes the resources they need to perform at the highest level. We couldn't be more grateful for Paul and his support of Cal."
White's acumen for science and math brought him to UC San Diego after graduating from Indio High School in Southern California. But although the university seemed like the right fit academically, White yearned to be at a school that featured a robust athletics program. He decided to transfer to Cal to join his older brother, who was a first-team All-American and went on to a 17-year NFL career with four Pro Bowl selections.
"Most of my classmates at UC San Diego were smart, nerdy engineer or mathematics types. It bored me to tears because I came from an athletic family," White said. "While I loved the academic side at UC San Diego, there were no high-level competitive sports programs at that time (although the surfing was outstanding). I really missed being around student-athletes."
After arriving at Cal, White ended up getting a job serving as a tutor for Cal student-athletes while studying biochemistry. After graduating from UC Berkeley, White went on to earn his medical degree and Ph.D. in pharmacology from UC San Francisco. He subsequently served on the faculties at three top universities (Stanford University, Washington University and the University of Texas). He held the Margret Milam McDermott Distinguished Chair of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UT Southwestern Medical Center for 18 years.
"We are grateful for Paul White and thank him for this transformational gift," Travers Family Head Football Coach Justin Wilcox said. "Paul has an excellent understanding of the importance of physical and mental wellness, and how it can improve the performance of our student-athletes. The Paul F. White Innovation and Wellness Center will be a game-changer for our program."
Renovations for the Paul F. White Innovation and Wellness Center are expected to begin at the end of the 2021 season.
"We have an outstanding group of student-athletes that are amazingly bright young men," White said. "I think they can really take advantage of this innovative program. I believe it will also enhance the ability of our coaching staff to recruit top student-athletes to Cal and allow them to optimize their athletic skills once they arrive on our beautiful campus. Go Bears!"