Ensuring the future growth of restorative dentistry

Jim Ellison and Dr. Dr. Naomi Ellison, UCLA DDS Class of 1981
Jim Ellison and Dr. Dr. Naomi Ellison, UCLA DDS Class of 1981
June 25, 2019

“ANY TIME YOU REAP THE BENEFITS OF SOMETHING THAT HAS AFFORDED you a successful career, it’s your responsibility to ensure those same opportunities are available to others,” said Dr. Naomi Ellison, UCLA DDS Class of 1981. “I always intended to give back to the school and feel fortunate that I am able to in several capacities.”

At the end of 2018, Naomi and her husband, Jim Ellison, established the Naomi and Jim Ellison Endowed Chair with a $1 million gift. The chair will be used to recruit and retain star faculty to practice and teach restorative dentistry. The donation establishes the twelfth endowed chair at the dental school and the third in the past five years. 

Dr. Naomi Ellison received her dental degree at UCLA in 1981, but she made her first gift to the dental school when she was still a student, to support a subsidy fund for patients from underserved populations. Her desire to give back to her alma mater continued as she built a successful private practice, during which time she also held several leadership positions within the dental field, including with the California Dental Association.

Dr. Ellison has also elevated the dental school through decades of counsel and philanthropic leadership, including through her service as chair of the UCLA School of Dentistry’s board of counselors for the past 25 years. During her over two decades of service, she has helped raise more than $55 million to support UCLA Dentistry’s mission for excellence in dental education, research, service, and patient care. 

“There has not been a day when I didn’t love being a dentist,” she said. “UCLA prepared me to be the best clinician I could be. General dentists are the gatekeepers of dental care, and I wanted to ensure that general restorative dentistry remains strong at UCLA. This endowed chair allows Jim and me to support an exceptional faculty member who will teach future leaders.”

Dr. Ellison is also a leader in campus-wide philanthropic activities, including being a current member of the cabinet for the Centennial Campaign for UCLA and immediate past president of UCLA Women and Philanthropy. 

Jim Ellison is the former chairman and CEO of Ellison Technologies, a global manufacturing solutions company. He built the company from a single location to 24 locations across the country. Since stepping down as chairman and CEO, he has focused his time on philanthropic interests. In addition to giving back to UCLA Dentistry, he is the director and past chairman of the board of the Los Angeles Metropolitan YMCA and was a board member of the Simms/Mann–UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.

“I hope that this gift inspires other alumni of the dental school to look at their successful careers and consider giving back to their alma mater,” he said. “I see what UCLA has done for Naomi, and if it weren’t for this world-class university, she wouldn’t have had such a fulfilling career.”

The couple chose to endow a faculty chair in restorative dentistry in part because they knew it would benefit the dental school for many years to come. “Donors and alumni like the Ellisons are instrumental in the upward trajectory of this dental school,” said Dr. Paul Krebsbach, the School’s dean. “Their gift will make a lasting impact on our section of restorative dentistry, and I can’t thank them enough for their support and dedication to UCLA.”