SANTA CRUZ -- A television executive and a local lawyer, both UC Santa Cruz graduates, will speak at UCSC's 10th annual Scholarship Benefit Dinner on Feb. 23.

Kevin Beggs, president of the Lionsgate Television Group that produces "Mad Men" and "Weeds," will join attorney Edison Jensen for the event, which will be at the University Center on campus. The 7 p.m. dinner will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception.

The dinner has become one of UCSC's significant fundraising events, highlighting community achievement while helping students fund their educations. The event has drawn attention and strong public support to UCSC's scholarship-giving campaign, which has raised more than $23 million -- with 7,948 donors and 21,673 gifts -- during the past decade.

Jensen, who graduated from Oakes College in 1986 with a focus on politics and international relations, went on to earn his law degree from Santa Clara University and immersed himself in social justice issues involving low-income people and farmworkers in the Pajaro Valley. He was the board chairman of Salud Para La Gente for many years and also helped establish the Pajaro Valley Health Trust.

"Those are two huge projects that would never have been possible had I not been able to get a degree from UCSC, which enabled me to advocate on behalf of a population with little or no education," he said.

Scholarships and financial aid were critical to his ability to go to college.

"I had no money, and I didn't have anyone to pay my way," Jensen said.

The dinner provides support for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships in an effort to help students attain their fullest academic potential. Because of reductions in state support, more students than ever need financial assistance to attend the university, and in recent years, low- and middle-income families have been particularly hard-hit by increased costs.

Since its creation, the dinner has addressed this growing need, while attracting an array of UCSC alumni keynote speakers, including Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of advertising at Google, and Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space.

Beggs, who graduated from Porter College with a focus in politics and theater arts, is an advocate on behalf of the campus and entertainment industry alumni, and a member of the Arts Dean's Leadership Board. Last year, Beggs spoke with UCSC Review magazine about his life, and what it's like to follow his gut instincts in a hyper-competitive market.

Co-chairs for the dinner will be Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, both of whom are Porter College graduates.

IF YOU GO

UCSC Scholarship Benefit Dinner

WHO: Speakers are attorney Edison Jensen and television executive Kevin Beggs
WHEN: Dinner at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 with reception at 6 p.m.
WHERE: University Center, UC Santa Cruz
TICKETS: To register, go to events.ucsc.edu/sbd/. The cost is $200 per ticket, half of which goes to a student scholarship.