The named deanship will provide support to the college for years to come
The University of Arizona recently announced the public phase of its fundraising campaign, Fuel Wonder. The launch, which coincided with Homecoming celebrations, included the announcement of a $5 million gift from Humberto (Bert) S. Lopez and his wife Czarina to establish the Iovanna C. Lopez Endowed Deanship at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, named in honor of their daughter.
Recognizing the college’s dean, the endowment will generate an annual sum that can be used at the dean’s discretion to further the mission of the College of Medicine – Tucson. The inaugural holder of the deanship is Michael M.I. Abecassis, MD, MBA, who became the dean of the college in November 2019.
“It’s an honor to be named the inaugural steward of this endowment, and on behalf of all of us at the College of Medicine – Tucson, I would like to thank Humberto and Czarina for their generous gift. The funds this endowment will generate in the future will contribute to the college’s ability to fulfill its tripartite mission of education, research and patient care,” said Abecassis. “This gift will undoubtedly help change lives.”
Over more than four decades, the Lopezes have contributed nearly $20 million across multiple university causes. In addition to endowing the deanship, the Lopezes have made other contributions that have benefited centers at the College of Medicine – Tucson, including establishment of the Endowed Chair for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research at the Sarver Heart Center and support for building the new home of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, which is slated to open next January.
Lopez attributes his success to his work ethic. When he was 12, his father died, leaving him — the oldest of six children — to support his mother and siblings. To earn money, he sold newspapers, mowed lawns and painted houses. In high school, he worked more than 40 hours a week at a grocery store.
Despite being told by a high school counselor that he would not succeed in college, Lopez enrolled in the University of Arizona and received his degree in accounting in 1969. Six years later, he cofounded HSL Properties, now one of Arizona’s largest apartment and hotel owner-operated property management companies.
Nearly 50 years later, Lopez continues to demonstrate his hard-working attitude, regularly working 10-hour days.
Although HSL Properties has brought Lopez great financial success, he has never forgotten his roots, and when asked what inspires him to give, Lopez remembers his youth.
“There’s nothing I’m lacking. I’ve been a giver all my life; it’s ingrained in me,” he said. “I grew up on welfare. We were happy because we were given help.”