George Kieffer, the high-profile partner in the West L.A. office of Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, has practiced law in a variety of fields over the course of his professional career. What has remained constant has been his promotion of higher education.

“I’ve been interested in higher education ever since I was an undergraduate,” said Kieffer, who graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1969, and earned his law degree at the UCLA School of Law in 1973.

For his alma mater, he has served as chairman of its alumni association; an alumni regent; and chairman of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation, which raises funds for the university. He also contributed to the development of higher education in the state, serving in the 1980s on a blue-ribbon commission reviewing California’s master plan for higher education.

Kieffer will again have the chance to shape education in the state, having recently been named to one of the country’s most important boards of higher education: the Regents of the University of California. The 26-member board oversees and sets policy for the 10 campuses of UC system, the top ranked public university system in the world.

As a regent, he said he will focus on supporting the university’s three-pronged mission: teaching, research and public service. It’s a mission that has been heavily impacted by the state’s budgetary problems.

“Right now, the most critical issue facing the (university) is funding,” Kieffer said. “We are a public university and we rely heavily on state funding.”

Kieffer has joined the board following controversial budget decisions taken by the Regents beginning in fall 2009. For the 2010-11 school year, courses had to be cut system-wide and undergraduate fees were raised by about 25 percent.

“Unless we restore state funding, we will face serious difficulties serving our mission in the years ahead,” he said.

Kieffer, 62, lives in Brentwood with his wife, Judith, and adult sons, Geordie and Ian. He is an amateur composer, and enjoys writing both instrumental and vocal music in his free time.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.