The Crowd: Philanthropic event is front and center

March 04, 2011|By B.W. Cook
  • SUPPORT: Rod Baker and Jeri Rosen attend Front and Center for Wylie and Bette Aitken.
SUPPORT: Rod Baker and Jeri Rosen attend Front and Center…

They have made a positive impact on Orange County. Bette and Wylie Aitken were honored recently by Cal State Fullerton with the university's O.C. Titan Award presented at the "Front and Center" gala held at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The major event filled the arena with supporters of CSF and the Aitkens coming together for a performance by Earth, Wind & Fire.

In addition to the concert by the Grammy winners and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, a black-tie dinner celebration for major donors unfolded with tickets going for $600 to more than $25,000. The purpose of the evening is to broaden the visibility of Cal State Fullerton in the Orange County community and to raise funds for both academic enrichment on campus and for much needed student scholarships.

A major contingent of Newport-Mesa supporters attended in honor of Bette and Wylie Aitken. Over the last decade the couple has emerged as significant philanthropic leaders.


Wylie Aitken serves as a trustee for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Chapman University. In addition, he is the board president for South Coast Repertory. Along with Bette, the pair has raised major funding for O.C. arts, education and scientific endeavors, as well as working tirelessly to chair major events rallying the community to action. Included in their passionate involvement are such causes as the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization, the Mission San Juan Capistrano preservation efforts and the foundation supporting Santa Ana College.

In her own right, Bette Aitken is a major force of good deeds and community giving. Among her charitable pursuits are the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Laura's House for women in crisis, where she was named "Women of the Year" in 2007, and many more.

In years past, "Front and Center" has honored such luminaries as Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, Michael Eisner and entertainers including Bill Cosby, Natalie Cole, Whoopi Goldberg and Christopher Reeve.

What is especially fitting about the Aitken honor is that Wylie Aitken attended CSUF, majoring in history, and credits the college with giving him the foundation to attend law school. Both he and Bette have "given back" to the university on many levels over multiple decades, including assisting with the underwriting of "Front and Center" for some 13 seasons.

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