College Honors Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler ‘72

GJW honors

Scripps paid tribute to trustee and alumna Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler ’72, on October 3, 2008, with the Ellen Browning Scripps Society Award, given on an occasional basis to an individual who most exemplifies the devotion and dedication of the founder of the College.

At a dinner in Los Angeles that included members of the society, trustees, faculty, staff, and students, Interim President Fritz Weis said, “We pay tribute to a woman who has done more than any other living alumna to strengthen the mission of Scripps College.”

Others who spoke of Jungels-Winkler’s accomplishments, dedication to service, and love of Scripps, were her son, Christophe Jungels-Winkler, and former trustee Deborah David ’74, both of whom traveled from London for the event. Remarks and toasts also came from Roxanne Wilson ’76, chair of the Board of Trustees; Mary Davis MacNaughton ’70, director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery; Patricia Dillon, the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Professor of Contemporary European Studies; Eric Haskell, professor of French and director of the Clark Humanities Museum; and emeritus professor and trustee Bradford Blaine.

Christophe Jungels-Winkler earned the biggest laugh of the evening when he observed that his mother had gone to America during a time of societal upheaval that prominently featured hippies, pot smokers, and war protesters — and brought home a love of Barry Manilow.

Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler’s unfailing devotion to significant causes that benefit others was mentioned frequently throughout the evening, along with her inspiring life story.

Gabrielle was born in Hong Kong and holds Swiss citizenship. With a strong background and interest in history and art, she came to Scripps and majored in art history (Gabrielle spent her junior year at L’Ecole du Louvre in Paris). She fell in love with the humanities, the beauty of the campus, and the graciousness of Miss Scripps’ vision that permeates all aspects of campus life.

After graduating from Scripps, she married, and while her former husband was earning his PhD in geophysics at Caltech,she worked in the Caltech public relations office. Her real adventures were about to begin: When her husband was posted by his company to The Hague in the Netherlands, she took Dutch lessons and more courses in history of Netherlands art and learned how to cook Indonesian food. The couple soon moved to Borneo and lived in a small house in the jungle, flying up to Brunei in a tiny propeller plane once a fortnight for provisions. While in Sarawak, her curiosity, nurtured by her humanities education, kicked in. Once, she travelled eight hours by canoe to visit and learn about the indigenous people who lived in “long houses” on stilts. It was during this tumultuous time — as she continued to join her husband on various assignments — that her twins, Christophe and Alexandra, were born in transit to Paris.

During the next few years, she was severely tested — and passed, she says, “Because I went to Scripps.” Her memories of Scripps, what she had learned, and ongoing correspondence with the College kept her strong.

When the twins were very young, the family lived for five years in Angola. As the first expatriate wife to come to Angola after the war, Gabrielle faced a situation in a struggling country that had no doctors and few food resources; sometimes they were without water and electricity for days. She not only learned to grow her own food, but started an infirmary in Angola, where medical knowledge and help were minimal. Also, due to her undergraduate classes in child psychology at Scripps’ Mary B. Eyre School, she started a nursery school in Angola that eventually was so successful it became accredited, and still is. This is where Gabrielle learned to speak Portuguese, the national language.

Gabrielle’s life today, in London, contains the same keen awareness of the needs of others. She manages her family’s charitable foundation, the focus of which is “education through the visual arts.” This covers a huge spectrum, from support of research, studies, and conservation to the financing of art exhibitions that are too eclectic or cerebral for corporate subsidy. The foundation also aims at providing education for the physically and mentally challenged through visits to galleries, offering specially printed “touch and feel booklets” with accompanying tapes (including music of the era to match each painting). Due to much eye surgery, Gabrielle herself has remained registered as visually handicapped for the last 11 years.

In the early 1980s, she worked with the British Dyslexic Association, serving as Information Officer, and helped push through the 1983 Education Act. This cause was of particular importance to her, as her twins were identified as dyslexic. She continues to be involved in her beloved arts, through activities and support of the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Britain, and the Tate Modern.

Gabrielle has helped transform the educational experience at Scripps with her generous gifts. As a trustee, since she first came on the Board in early 2003, she has kept the long-term interests of the College foremost in her decisions. In her personal philanthropy, she has identified key areas of the College to strengthen and enhance in order to move Scripps forward. The College is especially grateful for her foresight in establishing innovative, full-ride merit scholarships that bring the most outstanding students in the nation to Scripps, and which set a stunning example for other donors to follow. She has also supported the global interests of the College by endowing the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Chair in Contemporary European Studies, currently held by economics professor Patricia Dillon. In every area, Gabrielle’s support has been thoughtful and strategic.

In recounting Gabrielle’s contribution to the world and to Scripps, one is reminded of Ellen Browning Scripps’ vision of a college with “infinite possibilities.” Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler has selflessly created infinite possibilities for others. Scripps is grateful to her for her exemplary life as a true Scripps woman and for all she has done and continues to do for the College.