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May 19, 1997

Philanthropist Jack Baskin donates $5 million to UCSC

Campus to name new School of Engineering in his honor

By Robert Irion

Prominent Santa Cruz community philanthropist Jack Baskin (biography and photo), a retired developer and engineer, announced on May 16 that he will support UCSC's new School of Engineering with a gift of $5 million--by far the largest private donation in the 32-year history of the campus.

In recognition of Baskin's gift, UCSC will name its first professional school the Jack Baskin School of Engineering. The school represents a major expansion of UCSC's existing programs in computer engineering and computer science into several new fields, including electrical engineering and applied and engineering mathematics.

Baskin's donation will help UCSC attract topflight faculty members, offer scholarships, purchase equipment, and establish a permanent endowment to provide future income for the School of Engineering. UCSC will receive at least $3 million within the next two years, which the campus may use in an entrepreneurial way to support engineering activities of its choosing. Baskin has irrevocably committed through a trust the remaining $2 million, a sum reserved for the school's endowment.

"Jack Baskin's generous gift establishes a new benchmark for philanthropic contributions to UC Santa Cruz and in the Central Coast area," said Chancellor Greenwood. "It speaks to a wonderful partnership between an institution and an individual who has dreamed of making new futures possible for the young people of this region, the state, and beyond."

Daniel G. Aldrich III, assistant chancellor for University Advancement, notes that Baskin's gift serves as a capstone to his long history of supporting UCSC--from an initial 1971 donation of a boat that he sailed across the Pacific Ocean to Tahiti. His lifetime gifts and pledges to the campus now total more than $6.5 million.

"Jack Baskin is a self-made man, and he has always felt that education unlocks the door to the American dream," Aldrich said. "He was trained as an engineer, and engineering has served him well. To re-create that opportunity for others of lesser means, at the best public higher education system in the world, was a chance he could not pass up."

Baskin, founder of the construction and housing company Jack Baskin, Inc., says his latest gift reflects his conviction that engineering is a critical discipline for the future well-being of the region and the state. He adds that for UCSC to train leading engineers, a School of Engineering will prove far more effective than two or three isolated programs.

"A well-rounded major research university needs a School of Engineering," he said. "This will greatly enhance UCSC's role and reputation in the state. The new programs that the campus has planned are a great start, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the school evolves."

Because he has been a friend to the campus for most of its history, Baskin has seen UCSC's plans for a School of Engineering ebb and flow with the state's changing budgetary fortunes and other factors. Now, his gift is the cornerstone to making the school a reality.

"I've been pushing for this school for some time, as have many others," Baskin said. "Sometimes in philanthropy it takes a major initial gift to get a program going. I'm pleased to be able to play that role."

On a more personal level, Baskin noted, "Engineering was a stepping-stone for me. By funding the School of Engineering, I am paying back to the university, the community, and the country the great opportunities that were given to me. As young engineers graduate from UCSC, I will be delighted to know that they are on the road to success, just as I was."

Chancellor Greenwood and Assistant Chancellor Aldrich believe that Baskin's gift will trigger numerous other donations from industry and the private sector to support the School of Engineering. Indeed, several such gifts are pending and will be announced in the near future.

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