Cal Bears Release
BERKELEY – Cal rugby alumnus Stuart Shiff and his wife, Josie, have recently created an endowment entitled the “Mark Bingham Rugby Back Row Endowment” in honor of American hero and fellow Cal rugby alumnus Mark Bingham.
While Shiff and Bingham never knew each other personally, their commonalities as Cal graduates, rugby players, and back row players, as well as Bingham’s well-documented bravery on Sept. 11, inspired the gift.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Shiff planned to be on United Airlines Flight 93, which, coincidentally, had another passenger named Mark Bingham. Soon after takeoff, Bingham joined three others in preventing hijackers from reaching their assumed target of the nation’s capital, with the plane crashing to the ground in Pennsylvania.
“I get chills to this day thinking about that seemingly inconsequential decision to take the later flight that morning in order to go for a run with a friend in Central Park,” said Shiff.
The impact both Cal rugby and head coach Jack Clark have had on Shiff’s life runs deep. So deep, in fact, that Stuart and Josie’s son, Jake, is now a rising junior on the rugby team after starting rugby at an early age.
“I’m incredibly grateful,” said Shiff. “When I think of the experiences that have contributed to where I am today, my undergraduate years playing Cal rugby rises to the top of that list. Not only did it teach me about the power of great vision in unifying a group of boys to become a team of disciplined young men, it also showed me what is possible with great leadership. Jack Clark is a mentor of mine to this day, and his ability to instill discipline, values and focus is something that I continue to admire and incorporate into my own company. I also continue to be impressed by the leadership at Cal. Jim Knowlton has embraced the rugby program, and is unifying academia and athletics in a way that creates mutual respect, admiration, and connectivity across all aspects of student life. His infectious spirit and work ethic are commendable.”
As a Golden Bear, Shiff manned the flanker position from 1984-88 and was a part of three collegiate national championship teams (’85, ’86, ’88). Five years after hanging up the boots and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, he co-founded DivcoWest, a San Francisco real estate development and investment firm. Operating as the chief executive officer, the company has $11.3 billion in assets under management and has acquired over 48 million square feet of real estate since its inception.
Shiff is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineering, Urban Land Institute, and Pension Real Estate Association. He also serves on the policy advisory board of the Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics at UC Berkeley, the Cal Rugby Advisory Board, and the UCSF Board of Overseers Real Estate Committee.
When informed of the endowment being named after her son, Mark Bingham’s mother, Alice Hoagland, expressed both her gratitude and the shared connection that both Bingham and Shiff had to rugby at Cal.
“What an honor that Cal alumnus Stuart Shiff has chosen to donate to Cal intercollegiate athletics in memory of Mark Bingham,” said Bingham’s mother Alice Hoagland. “His remembrance of my son’s life just could not be more fitting or welcome. Rugby has a longtime home at Cal, thanks to Coach Jack Clark, who has served as inspiration to both Stuart and Mark during their careers at Cal. I am very proud of the newly created Mark Bingham Backrow Rugby Endowment, and I am very grateful to Stu Shiff, back-row/flanker, for generously remembering and honoring Mark Bingham. With you!”
Bingham was a member of the 1991 national championship team and a 1993 recipient of a bachelor’s degree in social sciences with an emphasis in international relations. Having launched the Bingham Group after college, a public relations firm serving the tech industry, he was dividing his time between San Francisco and New York City, where his company had opened an East Coast office.
For his actions on Sept. 11, he was named a co-recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2002 ESPYs. He is also memorialized in New York City at the National September 11 Memorial, where his name is etched along with the thousands of others who died in the attacks that day, and at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in an open field shortly after 10 a.m. local time. Furthermore, the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by Young Alumni was established at UC Berkeley in 2005. It is an annual recognition for a young graduate who, within the last 10 years, has made a significant contribution to his/her community, country, or the world at large.
“We are all cut from the same cloth, ultimately. We are all raised on the shoulders of those who came before us,” said Shiff. “Mark’s bravery not only on that flight but also in the face of adversity as a young man is something to be acknowledged and celebrated,” said Shiff. “And his demeanor – the ‘take charge’ attitude coupled with levity and good nature are elements I aspire to incorporate in my everyday life. He is a hero, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to remember him.”
The Shiff’s gift is the 11th of rugby’s 15 positional endowment opportunities and the most recent since eight were announced in March of 2018. In fact, one of those gifts, The Robert J. Paylor Rugby Lock Endowment, provided added motivation for Shiff given how well he knew the story. Created by rugby alumnus Byron Deeter (Cal ’96), a fellow Cal Rugby Advisory Board member, the endowment serves as a lasting honor to Paylor, who was seriously injured in the 2017 Varsity Cup National 15s Championship and is courageously battling to rehabilitate after suffering paralysis. Earlier this spring, Paylor earned his bachelor’s degree from the Haas School of Business, gave the keynote address during the student-athlete graduation celebration and received the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award.
“We are so appreciative of Stuart and Josie’s gift to Cal rugby,” said Jack Clark. “Their continued support of the rugby program is remarkable. This particular gift is the most special of all, as it honors Mark Bingham. Mark’s sacrifice and heroics are never far from our thinking, but this positional endowment further cements Mark Bingham into the long history of Cal rugby.”