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MO: THE ORIGINAL GUTTY LITTLE BRUIN

This past weekend, legendary label head Mo Ostin was honored with the Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year Award by UCLA during a ceremony at the Luskin Conference Center. The honor, named after the university’s co-founder, coincides with UCLA’s 100th anniversary. Mo is eight years younger than the school from which he graduated in 1951 with a degree in economics.  

When accepting the award from Chancellor Gene Block, Ostin said, “I want to thank UCLA for this great honor and for the great education and experience that prepared me so well for my life. My life was opened up in so many ways during my time here: in business, culturally—in the arts, music, theater, films—reading and politics. UCLA helped give me my work ethic, my love of sports and the desire to always continue to learn. And for all of that, I will be forever grateful and that is why I am here: I felt compelled to, in some way, ‘give back.’

“There’s this Frank Sinatra story I like,” Mo offered. “Frank—a former boss of mine who, like UCLA, changed my life—was known for giving very large tips. One time at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Frank tipped the valet who brought him his car $200. He then asked the valet if that was the biggest tip he ever got. The valet said ‘NO!’ Sinatra asked who had given him a bigger tip. And the valet said ‘YOU!’ ‘How much?’ And the valet told him $300. So Frank Sinatra gave the valet another $300, for a total of $500.That was one of Sinatra’s many ways of saying thanks. ‘My way’ [see what he did there?] was to donate as much as I could to areas I was passionate about at UCLA: music, sports, medicine and performance. Giving back made me feel just great.”

The Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center, designed to provide students with access to the latest advances in music technology; the Mo Ostin Basketball Center, a centralized home for the men’s and women’s Bruins basketball programs; and the Mo Ostin Academic Center for Student-Athletes, now under construction, are among his most recent contributions to UCLA. In addition, Ostin serves on boards of visitors for the university’s School of the Arts and Architecture and the Herb Alpert School of Music.

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