UCSC Launches $300 Million Fundraiser

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Using the slogan “Give, Don’t Give In,” UC Santa Cruz’s first ever comprehensive fundraising campaign launched publicly on Oct. 18 by Chancellor George Blumenthal during a luncheon at the University House. Joined by around 200 guests, Chancellor Blumenthal added that the campaign already reached half of its goal in effectively raising $150 million to fund its overall mission of improving student life.

The campaign quietly began in 2009, and since then, the university has reached out to prospective donors, alumni and parents of students, successfully recruiting more than 40,000 donors. The $300 million dollar goal is expected to fund the upgrades of facilities like the Quarry Amphitheater while supporting signature initiatives in genomics, coastal sustainability and data sciences.

Those in attendance at the luncheon included students, faculty, alumni, donors and the new UC president, Janet Napolitano, who stressed the financial importance of campaigns such as the one at UCSC.

“Campaigns like this one are very important and we want to make sure they’re getting all the support they need to keep these universities affordable,” Napolitano said. “Encouraging philanthropy is something that we’ll all have to do.”

According to a news article released by the UC, California recently increased base funding for the UC by $142 million earlier in the year. This increase in funding will used to freeze tuition for UC students, but in the process will also leave many UC-specific projects unfunded. Foundation trustee and chair of the campaign steering committee Linda Peterson said that this campaign will help to fill in those smaller-scale blanks left by state funding.

“There are four key initiatives that are being considered … and each of the board members have a Board Opportunity Fund,” Peterson said, “which is used to fund student and faculty activities on a smaller scale with grants of about $5,000 to $10,000. It’s a way of picking up where there might not be sufficient campus funding for some of these items.”

During the luncheon, Chancellor Blumenthal elaborated on how the fundraiser will aid current and incoming students of the university.

“UC Santa Cruz is, and always has been, an incubator for new ways of thinking, new ways of learning and new ways of taking action in the world,” Chancellor Blumenthal said. “This campaign will help UC Santa Cruz remain at the forefront of critical issues facing us today.”

With the ambition of maintaining UCSC’s academic lead, some of the funds from the campaign will go toward transforming the campus on a broader scale. An Institute of the Arts and Sciences is in the works and is predicted to become a “town square for collaboration and exhibitions centered on challenging contemporary issues,” Chancellor Blumenthal said in a press release.

Although many of the funds will go toward projects like the aforementioned learning facility, the campaign will also be helping students with undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Student Union Assembly (SUA) Chair Shaz Umer said the SUA will work closely with the chancellors to ensurethe funds are routed toward the aspects of the university that need it the most.

“We can either work with [the UC leadership] or see how we can get the student voice in play toward their decision-making process,” Umer said.

Donors have the option to allocate their gifts to certain areas of campus. However, many donors have also opted to give with no particular use in mind. Jim Burns, spokesperson for UCSC, said this is where students will be given the opportunity to influence where those funds are routed.

“Campus leadership welcomes the feedback of student leaders about what they see are areas that would benefit by receiving financial support,” Burns said. “There can be additional financial support in the form of private gifts but it can also be financial support from the expenditure of state dollars.”

UC president Janet Napolitano said the success of the campaign will require effort from the greater UCSC community.

“We’re going to bring these dollars home to assist and aid on the resources already available at this campus,” Napolitano said. “It’s why we call a campaign comprehensive and it’s everything we fight for at the legislature in Washington, D.C., but especially among people who care about this campus and this university and want it to continue to be the world leader in the 21st century.”