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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

Bringing peace to those in turmoil

Star and Robert Pepper © UC Regents
The Battistella Meditation Room/All Faith Chapel in UC Davis Medical Center’s new Michael W. Chapman Emergency and Trauma Center offers families and patients a retreat to peace and tranquility, thanks to a generous gift from UC Davis supporters Robert and Star Pepper.

Posted March 9, 2011

Robert Pepper’s name has been synonymous with the word “semiconductor” for almost 50 years. As a UC Berkeley professor in 1961, Pepper helped establish the first integrated circuit research laboratory at a U.S. university. Later, in the Sacramento area, he led Level One Communications in becoming a publicly held company of more than 1,200 employees, which was acquired in 1999 by Intel Corp.

But it is the Robert S. and Star Pepper Foundation that is making a difference for UC Davis. The foundation has, over the past several years, given generously to UC Davis, including grants to the College of Engineering for biomedical engineering, the Graduate School of Management, and UC Davis Health System to support the Education Building on the Sacramento campus.

The foundation’s “flight path,” as the Peppers put it, spans a diverse yet thematically related cross-section of community outreach: education, faith-based organizations, health, the arts, humanitarian aid and associations that support the Constitution.

Two of those elements — health and faith — are neatly encompassed by the foundation’s most recent gift to UC Davis. The Peppers’ gift was used to create the Battistella Meditation Room/ All Faith Chapel in UC Davis Medical Center’s new Michael W. Chapman Emergency and Trauma Center.

“You may need a creative solution to a challenging medical problem, which is best done when the mind is taken away from the day-to-day activity, and you’re able to meditate and think.”
— Robert Pepper

The Peppers believe that positive mental health and the ability to renew and rejuvenate one’s inner peace and thought processes are major factors in producing better outcomes for healing — for patients and their families and friends facing a critical journey, as well as for the health-care professionals who are treating and guiding them.

“You may need a creative solution to a challenging medical problem,” Robert Pepper explains, “which is best done when the mind is taken away from the day-to-day activity, and you’re able to meditate and think.”

Designed to embrace all faiths and promote a sense of tranquility, the meditation room contains a water feature as well as considerable natural light from a series of floor-to-ceiling, etched-glass windows. The chapel is named in the memory of trauma physician Felix D. Battistella. Fellow church member and retired UC Davis surgeon Charles Frey introduced the Peppers to Battistella, who was fighting cancer at the time.

“Charlie was aware that we had donated funds for the Education Building and were considering supporting the hospital,” Pepper says. “He brought Felix’s name to us. We had the honor of meeting Felix and his charming wife and children not long before he passed away. We quickly learned that he was not only a skilled surgeon but a highly revered teacher whom absolutely everyone loved. We thought it was the right way to honor his contributions, and we were pleased to do it.”