Engineering Alumnus Bruce and Marie West Honored with Soderquist Award
Bruce '71, M.S. '73 and Marie West, longtime donors, supporters and friends of UC Davis, have been awarded the 2023 UC Davis Charles J. Soderquist Award.
The UC Davis Foundation bestows the award in recognition of exceptional volunteer leadership and philanthropic support resulting in significant and lasting impacts on UC Davis, as exemplified by the award's namesake, who went by Charlie, a UC Davis alumnus and entrepreneur.
"We are humbled to receive this award," Bruce West said. "It is particularly meaningful to us because Marie and I knew Charlie. His inspirational contributions occurred at a time, several decades ago, when significant philanthropy and proactive volunteer leadership was not common here at UC Davis. He set a very high benchmark for others to follow.
"For me, this award is also significant because it acknowledges my wife, Marie, for her part in supporting my direct involvement, our joint philanthropy, and for embracing UC Davis and our network of friends as an ex officio Aggie."
The Wests have a long history of supporting many parts of UC Davis, from the College of Engineering, School of Veterinary Medicine and UC Davis Health, to the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and the Cal Aggie Alumni Association.
"It is a pleasure to recognize Bruce and Marie West with the Soderquist Award," said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations and president of the UC Davis Foundation. "Their dedication, service and support to UC Davis are an inspiration to many and have made a difference for the community in countless ways."
[This award] is particularly meaningful to us because Marie and I knew Charlie. His inspirational contributions occurred at a time, several decades ago, when significant philanthropy and proactive volunteer leadership was not common here at UC Davis. He set a very high benchmark for others to follow. — Bruce West
Bruce West's earliest volunteer service at UC Davis involved working with engineering faculty on an accreditation team as an undergraduate student representative. By graduation, he had developed personal relationships with many faculty and a strong sense of gratitude to those who had helped arrange funding for his graduate studies and for referrals leading to that "first job."
"After graduation from UC Davis, I have continued to stay in touch with faculty and classmates," West said. "Those relationships and positive experiences here at UC Davis have been the genesis of my expanding volunteer and philanthropic efforts for the past 50 years — and have contributed to my success in later life."
Marie West has become an honorary Aggie through her decades of supporting the university. She embraces the culture of UC Davis and remains a focal point for the Wests' social interactions with university leaders, including Chancellor Gary S. May and LeShelle May, and with friends whom she invites to campus events to expose them to all UC Davis has to offer.
She had a long career as a marketing professional for large engineering firms in Sacramento, where she met Bruce through participation in the Society for Marketing Professional Services, of which she was president at the time.
She served as a member of the Yolo Basin Foundation board of directors and as volunteer event manager of the foundation's California Duck Days — a two-day festival celebrating the Pacific Flyway — for 10 years.
Bruce West spent most of his early career working for a consulting engineering firm, managing water-related projects as well as the firm's operations, and developing client relationships, before starting his own practice in 1990.
His own practice
"In January 1990 I quit a perfectly good job and started as a sole practitioner consulting engineer," West said. "It was just me and a part-time assistant in a small executive office here in Davis. My vision was to keep my practice relatively small so that I could concentrate on delivering quality service to clients rather than tending to the administrative needs of large staff."
That vision soon evolved, as opportunities to serve additional clients and hire great people became evident.
"I could not help myself," he said. "The allure of doing more challenging and larger assignments for great clients was too much for me, so I significantly altered my vision."
He eventually partnered with Aggie alum and classmate Jim Yost to form West Yost Associates. Although West has been retired for several years, the firm continues to prosper and has numerous offices across the western states.
Bruce West has served on various boards and committees that uphold UC Davis' vision for volunteer involvement. His longest volunteer work has been with the College of Engineering as a member of the Dean's Advisory Committee and as a member and chair of the Cal Aggie Engineering Alumni Association.
He became a trustee of the UC Davis Foundation Board in 1991 and recently served as chair. He is also a past chair of the Davis Chancellor's Club, the university's oldest donor recognition society. He is a former member of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association board and a current member of the Athletics Board of Advisors.
"Being on all these boards was a chance to stay updated and make some meaningful input into the programs," he said. "Plus, it was an opportunity to stay in touch and meet other dedicated friends of the university, so it's been rewarding."
He received the College of Engineering's Alumni Medal in 2000 and Distinguished Service Medal in 2012, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association's Jerry W. Fielder Memorial Award in 2016 and the UC Davis Medal in 2020.