Gordon Getty, Composer and Philanthropist, Named USF Alumnus of the Year


USF named businessman, investor, philanthropist, and classical music composer Gordon Getty ’56 alumnus of the year at the university’s Alumni Awards Gala on Oct. 4.

Getty is one of six outstanding alumni recognized for their service to the community and dedication to the university.

Getty, the son of oil magnate J. Paul Getty, studied English at USF before going on to a range of accomplishments, including serving in the Army, composing internationally-performed operas, founding and investing in companies, and creating the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation — which awards millions of dollars a year in grants to music organizations throughout the country.

Major contributor

In a video profile shown at the gala, Getty remarked that “you’re a shmuck” not to support what you believe in, if you have the means to do so.

“I like to give a lot to many organizations — so much that if we skipped a year they wouldn’t be broke,” he said. “A lot of our recipients are surprised to receive our check. They haven’t asked for it. We’ve heard about them and we send it to them.” 

The philanthropist, a generous donor to USF, also contributed to the recently completed J. Paul Getty Study in the John Lo Shiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation.

“Renaissance man”

“It’s rare these days to be able to find someone who truly is a Renaissance man, and yet Gordon fits that description: obviously a very intelligent, analytical thinker, a great businessman, and a business executive — but also a composer, a poet, an artist,” said USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. “It’s a wonderful example for our students to see someone who is so prolific and so competent in so many different domains.”

The Alumni Awards Gala capped off Alumni Weekend, where hundreds of alumni returned to the Hilltop to reconnect and celebrate. At the gala, USF also recognized several other alumni for their achievements: 

Doris Cheng Doris Cheng JD ’98, a successful attorney who has won multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of disabled citizens in California, received the Professional Achievement Award. The award recognizes alumni who have brought distinction to the university through exemplary achievements or service in their professions.


Bill HollingsworthBill Hollingsworth ’70, former president of USF’s Southern California Alumni Regional Council, was the recipient of the Alessandri Service Award. The award is presented to alumni who have provided excellent service to the university or alumni association.


Aaron Horn Aaron Horn EdD ’08, MA ’12, an author and advocate for black youth growing up in dangerous neighborhoods, received the Edward J. Griffin Award. The award, named for the first dean of the School of Education, recognizes alumni dedicated to the common good.


Carlos Mechaca Carlos Menchaca ’04, an advocate for immigration reform and the first elected Mexican-American on the New York City Council, was awarded the Fr. Privett Living the Mission Award. The award is presented to alumni who are living the mission of USF through their professional or volunteer work.


Kevin Mullin Kevin Mullin ’92, a California assemblyman, received the Public Service Award, which recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves in the arena of public service.


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