A $14 million donation to Claremont Graduate University from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will be used to establish the Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies at the former Huntley Bookstore, CGU officials announced Tuesday.

The gift is one of the largest donations to CGU in its nearly 100-year history and will transform the 23,00-square-foot bookstore for The Claremont Colleges into a multi-disciplinary health research center bearing a name that means “People of the Pines” — a reference to the ancestors of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies is meant to facilitate collaboration between CGU and outside partners to address health challenges prevalent in underserved populations of the Inland Empire, including Native American communities, which historically have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental health issues, lack of overall well-being, and other chronic conditions, CGU researchers said.

CGU President Len Jessup said the partnership with the tribe makes it possible to create “powerful new collaborations on preventive and proactive responses” to chronic illnesses.

“Real, substantial breakthroughs happen when people from many disciplines come together … That’s the hallmark of our transdisciplinary philosophy, and the purchase of the Huntley makes it possible to create such a space for that kind of engagement on our campus,” he said.

The mid-20th Century Huntley building also will serve as the CGU’s School of Community & Global Health and be the new home of the Tribal Administration Program, which was established in 2006.

San Manuel Tribal Chair Ken Ramirez, representing the Highland-based Band of Mission Indians in San Bernardino County, said the tribe’s investment represents its commitment to healthier communities of Wednesday.

“In our role as stewards of our ancestral lands, we support our neighboring communities, in addition to our tribe,” Ramirez said. “For generations, low-income communities and underserved populations have needed quality healthcare.”

Deron Marquez, former San Manuel chair and a CGU alumnus who sits on the university’s Board of Trustees, said he believes the center’s work will resonate far beyond Southern California.

“The types of health and well-being research that will be tackled by the center are relevant to the needs and situations of so many today. Its benefits will ripple out,” Marquez said. “To bring together the university’s pioneering approach to research with San Manuel’s philanthropic vision is truly exciting.”

For more about the Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies, visit info.cgu.edu/ychs/.

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