An Inside Look at Steve Klosterman's Bruin Pride

Steve Klosterman is a Regional Director and Investment Counselor with Halbert Hargrove in San Diego. Steve graduated from UCLA with honors in 1974 and was an Honorable Mention All American football player. He went on to earn his MBA from Stanford University in 1977. Steve is a former chair of the UCLA Fund and the current Chair of the UCLA Foundation.  

UCLA FUND: You graduated from UCLA in 1974 with a BA in Political Science. Can you share some of your favorite memories from your time as a student here?

STEVE KLOSTERMAN: For me, it was a perfect synergy between academics, athletics and my social life. I remember my constitutional law professor, Doug Hobbs, was a rigorous and intellectually stimulating professor. He really honed my critical analytical thinking skills. As a football player, I have some amazing memories (especially since we were 9-2 my senior year!). Socially, some of my oldest and dearest friends came through football including teammates Mark Harmon, Russ Leal, Brad Lyman, and Bruce Walton as well as Barry Axelrod who worked in the AD.

Why is unrestricted giving so important to you?
Unrestricted giving is vital for so many reasons. Since I am so involved at UCLA, I see how difficult unrestricted gifts are to get. From a financial perspective, unrestricted gifts are actually worth a lot more than the donor may realize – a $5,000 annual unrestricted gift would be equivalent to about $100,000 in the endowment! Even the small percentage of money UCLA gets from the State – less than 15 percent – is restricted. But, the core reason unrestricted giving is so important is it’s our students and our faculty that make UCLA the world-class institution it is, and I feel unrestricted gifts help UCLA retain top faculty in these tough budgetary times which will help us continue to attract top students.

Why do you believe so strongly in consistently contributing specifically to the Chancellor’s Greatest Needs (CGN) fund here at UCLA?
When I attended UCLA, it was arguably only a good school. Today it is great one! I have personally benefited from UCLA’s reputation consistently rising in Southern California and around the world. To that end, I believe greatly in giving Chancellor Block flexibility in addressing the University’s needs as they arise. Any business person would understand no matter how strategically sound your plans are, unexpected opportunities and challenges arise – the Chancellor’s Greatest Needs is where I put my dollars so they can assist in meeting essential needs as identified by our Chancellor.

Given your experience in investment management consulting and advising, can you tell us how your business experience has informed your passion for giving, and vice versa?
In my role as an advisor, I work with many high net worth people. They often give in very sophisticated ways that have financial benefits so it’s a win-win for the donor and the institution. What I have observed is people who give are just happier! Personally and in my professional life, I see people want to be a part of something bigger and do take pride in helping make something better. I look at giving to UCLA as “venture philanthropy” where just about every person can find something they are passionate about giving to that UCLA is involved with in some manner. That’s an advantage an outstanding research university like UCLA can offer – virtually everyone can find a way to give to a cause they want to support.  

You are extremely active within the UCLA community, having served as Chair of our UCLA Fund Executive Committee and currently as a member of the UCLA Foundation Board – why do you think volunteering is so essential? Why does UCLA, in particular, rise to the top of your personal philanthropic priorities?
Giving is an opportunity, not an obligation. The University cannot survive on volunteering or giving alone; UCLA needs both. I feel like I have gotten so much more out of volunteering and giving here at UCLA – far outweighing the time and money I have invested. UCLA greatly enhanced the quality of my life. I came from a small town, Laguna Beach, in Southern California and when I entered UCLA, I was really just an adolescent. By the time I graduated, I was a man. UCLA served me so well academically, socially and athletically. I want to give back to show my appreciation and gratitude and help ensure UCLA does the same for our students today and in the future.

Why should students, alumni, parents and friends unite behind UCLA?
I mentioned that UCLA was good when I was a student and great today. My biggest fear is UCLA will actually regress and that would be detrimental to all of the alumni, and current and future Bruins because the worth of a UCLA degree will decrease. So to bring out a classic football analogy, the best defense is a good offense. We need be aggressive in garnering more private support. Almost no matter what your particular passion is, you can find it at UCLA…so when we unite to support UCLA, we are helping maintain UCLA’s current greatness and hopefully helping our university to get even better.

What do you feel is the biggest objection you face when championing UCLA and UCLA Fund giving? How do you respond?  
I hear a lot of objections from people because each person is invested in UCLA in a different way – everything from athletics to legacy admissions can be upsetting to various people in different ways at different times. I say UCLA is a great place not a perfect place. UCLA is like a balance sheet with both assets and liabilities. At any point in time, you can argue its liabilities, but ‘bottom line,’ I think everyone will concede UCLA’s assets far exceed its liabilities. If you look at UCLA in a holistic way, you will see the importance and need for giving.