Published: Feb. 3, 2023

Alumnus and donor Jeremy May

Alumnus and donor Jeremy May

Consistent access to mental health and wellness support is critical for youth development—and at CU Boulder, Forever Buff and CU Foundation board chair Jeremy May is taking action to make a positive impact.

Through a generous donation to support mindfulness, compassion and wellness initiatives at CU Boulder, May will change the trajectory of mental health research and programming at the university’s Renée Crown Wellness Institute and in the Leeds School of Business. 

The Crown Institute, established in 2019 through a gift from philanthropist Patricia Crown to honor her mother, was formed with a vision to create a world where every young person thrives. With his most recent gift, May is committed to expanding the institute’s impact and supporting the growth of mental health opportunities on campus and beyond—while simultaneously honoring his own mother.

“As I’ve become more involved with the Crown Institute at CU Boulder, I’ve recognized how crucial mental well-being is on both an individual and societal level—and I’m inspired by the faculty’s vision to do my part advancing the mission of the institute,” said May, who has previously partnered with his alma mater at Leeds to mentor students and create internship opportunities.

“Jeremy’s gift will enable CU Boulder and communities around the world to improve mental health through mindfulness and compassion—powerful tools that have been proven to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “His investments in holistic, community-based research and student programming will provide faculty and students with critical support to advance this work.”

May’s gift will support three areas: a new endowed faculty chair, a pilot to expand the Dalai Lama Fellows program and a planned estate gift to create a discretionary endowed fund for the Crown Institute.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits with Crown Institute Director Sonja Dimidjian

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits with Crown Institute Director Sona Dimidjian and other staff over videoconference, October 2021.

Researchers and community members chat during the Crown Institute's grand opening event

Researchers and community members chat during the Crown Institute's grand opening event, October 2022.

“There is an urgent need for research focused on the mental health of young people and the adults who support them,” said Crown Institute director Sona Dimidjian. “The study of mindfulness and compassion-based practices is critical to identifying skills that can support enduring individual wellness and transform our broader world. Jeremy’s commitment to these practices and his partnership with the Crown Institute will support the deepening of our scholarly work and increase its impact on the lives of students, educators and families.”

With the first part of his donation, May will establish the Yvonne Kristy Endowed Chair in the Crown Institute, named in honor of his mother, who worked multiple jobs for over 15 years to obtain her bachelor’s degree from CU and also worked at the campus Computing Center for two decades. May is creating this chair in her name to sustain the infrastructure and faculty resources necessary to further the mission of the Crown Institute.

The Yvonne Kristy Endowed Faculty Chair will provide critical funding to recruit and retain a world-class researcher. It will also provide them with resources to lead a comprehensive research program, while staying rooted in interdisciplinary research-practice partnerships. 

To accelerate the institute’s progress and impact, the chair will honor a faculty member with a specific focus on establishing a positive impact on humanity through the study of mindfulness, altruism and compassion.

With the second part of May’s gift, the Crown Institute will expand the Dalai Lama Fellows program, an international program that cultivates and supports a movement of young social innovators to meet global challenges in locally adapted ways. CU currently offers this opportunity to students in connection with the Mindful Campus program. With May’s gift, the Dalai Lama Fellows program will expand to students in the Leeds School of Business as part of a three-year pilot.

The pilot will specifically focus on entrepreneurship and social innovation, helping students develop their leadership skills and providing them with the tools to incorporate mindfulness and compassion into their roles as business innovators. Beginning this summer, the pilot will welcome a cohort of five Leeds students per year.

“It is a special honor to receive Jeremy’s thoughtful and generous support, which will allow us to begin an incredible journey with the Dalai Lama Fellows program,” said Laura Kornish, associate dean of undergraduate programs and professor of marketing at Leeds. “We are so grateful for this gift, which will foster much in the way of meaningful social innovation.”

Lastly, the remainder of May’s donation—an estate gift—will create a discretionary endowment fund for the Crown Institute to support research and programming needs as they arise. This type of flexible funding will allow the institute’s faculty and staff to maximize their vision and respond quickly to areas of greatest impact.

As a whole, May’s gift will support an enduring legacy that focuses on advancing mental health research opportunities for the betterment of society.