Q&A with Trustee James Mazzo

As the former chair of the UCI Foundation Board of Trustees, a trustee of Chapman University and a past trustee of the University of San Diego, James V. “Jim” Mazzo is a strong believer in education. His extraordinary commitment to UCI and the broader community even led him to receive the UCI Medal in 2008.

Beyond UCI, he is one of the ophthalmic industry’s most well-known and respected business leaders with more than 37 years of proven experience. He currently serves as the global president for Carl Zeiss Meditec’s strategic business unit, ophthalmic devices, which includes ophthalmic diagnostics, surgical ophthalmology and refractive lasers.

Mazzo sat down to answer some questions about the university, the foundation and how both have evolved over the years.

Q: How did you become interested in UCI?

Mazzo: My wife, Kelly, and I were oversees for 14 years, where education is perceived much differently. There, it is more accepted and appreciated. People want to give back and support education. Once I returned to the U.S., I met Ralph Cicerone. We connected, of course, over our love of baseball. We met at Anteater Park and talked for about an hour. Next thing I knew, I was involved at UCI. I have been part of the CEO Roundtable, the UCI Foundation, then as chair of the UCI Foundation. I am very fortunate to have been involved with UCI in many different capacities, and it all started because of Ralph Cicerone.

Q: What were some of your most memorable moments on the UCI Foundation Board of Trustees?

Mazzo: I have been a member of the foundation since 2003, and it has evolved quite a lot during those 15+ years. One of my most memorable moments was when we discussed the Shaping the Future Campaign’s $1 billion goal at one of our retreats. I remember thinking, that’s a lot of money. But then we publicized it! And I thought, oh now we are really committed. Other memorable moments are when there were changes in leadership, which can lead to challenges. But this ongoing turmoil – and playing a role in resolving it – has kept me interested.

Q: Which one of your projects at UCI are you most proud of?

Mazzo: The baseball field and the eye institute. My two passions in life are athletics and health. Some people may not know this but no state funds were given to the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, Orange County’s first academic eye institute. Instead, the $39-million facility was paid entirely through local corporate, foundation and individual philanthropic gifts. I led the very successful community campaign, and I take great pride in what we were able to build together. Through the institute, the people of this region now have access to cutting-edge research, treatment and care.

Trustee Spotlight

Marilyn Sutton

James Mazzo