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SAN FRANCISCO - Safeway's chairman, president and c.e.o. Steve Burd and his wife, Chris, were honored yesterday in recognition of their $2.5 million charitable contribution to benefit a Distinguished Professorship in Prostate Cancer Research at the University of California, San Francisco's Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Safeway says the gift will make it possible to recruit "a stellar prostate cancer scientist to focus on uncovering better detection methods, develop better treatment options, and improve survival rates for patients" at the UCSF Center, which ranks first among all cancer centers in California and fourth nationally in National Cancer Institute (NCI) research support.
"UCSF is in Safeway's backyard, and it is the best center in the country for research and innovative treatment for prostate cancer," Burd said in a statement. "We appreciate the opportunity to assist this institution's important mission."
As part of its four-week fundraising effort combining employee events and customer fundraising in more than 1,500 Safeways throughout the U.S., Safeway in June raised more than $3.5 million for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, which has been the benefactor of nearly $8 million since 2000, courtesy of the supermarket chain.
Yesterday's special event honoring the Burds was likely to have been a welcome occasion for company officials in view of the negative press it has received in recent months.
Throughout much of this year, Safeway's management team -- and Burd in particular -- has faced intense pressure to rise above criticism that they have mismanaged the company from organized labor leaders and dissident shareholders. At the company's annual meeting last spring, Burd fended off an attempt to be ousted from the company's board of directors.