News Release

Donors committed to student success bring Minerva's Cafe and Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace to Franklin Antonio Hall

A rendering of Franklin Antonio Hall

December 2, 2021--Located on the first floor of UC San Diego’s new Franklin Antonio Hall engineering facility, Minerva’s Café and the Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace will play a key role in enriching the university experience for generations of students – the future technology leaders who will tackle society’s toughest challenges.

The café and adjoining terrace will be at the heart of Franklin Antonio Hall (FAH), where donor support through the Campaign for UC San Diego is helping to create the capacity for world-changing innovation. The 186,000-square-foot facility, projected to be completed in early 2022, is designed for collaborative research, active learning, industry engagement, and commercialization of discoveries for the global good.

Two philanthropic groups will be recognized through naming the café and the outdoor terrace at FAH – both inspired by a commitment to supporting student success through gifts for programmatic expansion of the Jacobs School of Engineering.

The naming of Minerva’s Café is a tribute to ten women – technology leaders and science enthusiasts – who joined together to make a collective impact with a gift of $500,000. Minerva’s Café promises to be a popular gathering spot for sustenance, convening and conversation.

The Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace naming honors a steadfast champion of the Jacobs School of Engineering for nearly four decades – and their continuing support for student resources with a pledge of $250,000. The Powell Terrace will serve as a premier space for outdoor dining, events, and a central hub for activity and engagement.

The first floor of FAH will be an energetic center for education and student engagement, with more than 450 students per hour from across campus circulating through enhanced learning spaces. Minerva’s Café and the Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace will also draw faculty, students, researchers and industry partners enroute to FAH’s 13 collaboratories, Executive Outreach and Learning Center, and Institute for the Global Entrepreneur.

Campus and community members will gather at the café and terrace for meals, coffee breaks, networking, events, socializing and relaxing – while enjoying stunning views of the natural canyon landscape and eucalyptus grove, and the iconic Geisel Library. 

Minerva’s Café

A rendering of Minerva's Cafe and the adjoining Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace.

The idea to bring together ten women leaders in technology and STEM fields for collective philanthropic impact was the brainchild of Martha Dennis, a long-time friend of UC San Diego and member of dean’s advisory councils at both the Jacobs School and the Rady School of Management.

In the male-dominated field of technology engineering, Dennis paved the way for other women. She earned a Harvard PhD, raised a family, and built a remarkable career as a technology and software engineer, entrepreneur and CEO. Motivated by a desire to make life easier through technology, she takes pride in being part of a team that developed the groundbreaking idea of data service for cell phones.

Dennis took the lead in identifying and securing philanthropic commitments from nine women leaders in the community who are equally passionate about supporting student resources at UC San Diego. Each member of this accomplished group contributed $50,000 toward the $500,000 gift, and together they came up with the name Minerva’s Café, inspired by the Roman goddess for wisdom and community. 

The group of women includes some who are Jacobs School alumni, and nearly all are first-time donors. Many were inspired by Dennis, and credit her with making an impact on their professional growth. What unites them is their deep desire to support student success and diversity, and to inspire others to give. 

Minerva’s Cafe was made possible by Martha Dennis, Ambassador Diana L Dougan, Arlene Harris, Yvonne Hildebrand, Kristi Jaska, Peggy Johnson, Vera Kripalani, Anna Scipione, Jan Talbot and Susan Tousi.

Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace

The Charles Lee Powell Foundation’s support for UC San Diego spans nearly 40 years, with more than $35 million in philanthropic contributions to the Jacobs School. The foundation is the longest-running and top donor of graduate fellowship support to the university, and has also provided support for endowed chairs, the Powell Structures Lab in the campus engineering complex, and the Powell Focht Bioengineering Building.

The foundation’s recent pledge of $250,000 toward programmatic expansion underscores their continuing support for the vision of the Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering Albert P. Pisano, who is dedicated to preparing the next generation of engineering and technology leaders. These future leaders include students such as Powell Fellows, who will have the opportunity to connect with campus and community members on the Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace. 

Nourishing people and conversation

“Franklin Antonio Hall is the place where we’re cooking up our future,” said Pisano. “And we’re not just cooking up ideas, we’re cooking up food.”

The kitchen is the center of the home in many cultures, he said, and Minerva’s Café and the Powell Terrace are the center of FAH in many ways. “A great kitchen facilitates conversation, because you put the people, the nourishment, the excitement, the energy – all in that place and watch the magic happen.”

In this way, the café and terrace will serve as an essential part of the FAH ecosystem for the innovators who will share meals and dynamic conversations. The rich array of first-floor student resources – such as the Learning Innovation Studio – are also designed to stimulate conversation, the key to the future of learning at the Jacobs School. In fact, the entire building is designed to facilitate the easy flow of people and ideas, and many architectural features draw the eye to the outside – underscoring the university’s message that impact occurs when ideas are shared with the world.

“The circulation of people and ideas is how you keep an ecosystem healthy, dynamic and strong,” said Pisano. “It’s how you drive the education and research of the future. It’s how you reinvent the world.”

Pisano envisions limitless possibilities at Minerva’s Café and the Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace. “Looking toward the west, imagine the sun going down, the sky becoming orange. You’ve got everything you need to stimulate the new ideas that are going to cook up the future. Including Wi-Fi, good colleagues, the right ecosystem . . . and probably the best cup of espresso you’re going to get this side of downtown.”

About the Campaign for UC San Diego

At the University of California San Diego, challenging convention is our most cherished tradition. Through the Campaign for UC San Diego – our university-wide comprehensive fundraising effort concluding in 2022 – we are enhancing student support, ensuring student success, transforming our campus, connecting our community, and redefining medicine and health care on a global scale. Together with our philanthropic partners, we will continue our nontraditional path toward revolutionary ideas, unexpected answers, lifesaving discoveries, and planet-changing impact.


Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering