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Visionary Gift from UCSB Professor and Spouse Will Fund Four Endowed Chairs Focusing on Globalization and Build Centers of Excellence Across the Disciplines

Monday, April 30, 2007 - 17:00
Santa Barbara, CA

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Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp

UC Santa Barbara Emeritus Professor Duncan Mellichamp and his wife, Suzanne, have made a $2 million philanthropic gift to the campus to establish a second cluster of four endowed chairs.

The innovative gift will make it possible for UCSB to recruit four leading scholars to launch a major new interdisciplinary academic research initiative to study the effects of globalization.

The Mellichamp Academic Initiative Professorships, which now number eight at UCSB, are important to the future development of the campus.

They provide special opportunities to build centers of excellence in carefully selected programmatic areas of rising importance that will change over time.

This is the largest gift ever made by a UCSB faculty member.

The coordinated clusters of endowed chairs will enable the campus to pursue new fields of scholarly inquiry and to strengthen existing pioneering research programs across disciplines through the recruitment of eminent scholars.

With their latest gift, the couple has established a total of nine endowed chairs at UCSB, including a professorship in process control in the Chemical Engineering Department, of which Duncan Mellichamp was a founding member.

UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang described Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp as "campus legends."

"In so many ways, they have helped to shape UC Santa Barbara into what it is today," said Yang.

"Their desire to give back to the campus as philanthropists, in addition to all the other extraordinary ways they have contributed and participated, is truly an inspiration.

Our entire campus community is celebrating the establishment of this innovative cluster of chairs in the area of globalization."

He added, "I will never forget the joy and honor of presenting Duncan and Suzanne with the Santa Barbara Medal, our campus's highest honor, in appreciation of their legacy on this campus and their vision for UC Santa Barbara's future."

Throughout his 40-year career at UCSB as a faculty member and a campus leader, Duncan Mellichamp saw a need for the campus to initiate major programmatic changes to keep up with a changing world.

"Suzanne and I decided to give away financial assets while we could enjoy observing the full effects of our gifts," he said.

"It seemed natural to reinvest in major new academic initiatives at UCSB.

The idea of endowing several clusters of professorships, each group to rotate into a new area every 15 years, was our way to maximize their long-term impact."

Suzanne Mellichamp, a retired schoolteacher, said she was pleased that their second cluster of endowed chairs would concentrate on globalization as the next major research emphasis.

Their first cluster of professorships is supporting pioneering research in the emerging field of systems biology in the College of Engineering and in the Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences Division of the College of Letters and Science.

"We know UCSB faculty already are providing important insights into the technological, economic, and political changes sweeping over our world and its many interdependent societies," she said.

"Constructive answers have to come from our history, values, and ability to view ourselves as a single community.

This effort will surely require the skills of social scientists and humanists working collaboratively."

Endowed chairs are highly prized academic positions that enable a university to develop more fully a field of study through the recruitment of leading scholars and to provide ongoing financial support for enhanced research and instruction.

Initially, the Mellichamp chairs will be awarded as a group to top faculty in the social sciences, humanities, or fine arts with related research interests that will advance understanding of the growing integration of economies and societies around the world.

Possible areas of focus include race, gender, ethnic studies, cultural studies, national studies, religion, politics, the media, economic policy, poverty, labor studies, law, commerce, public policy, language, literature, art and aesthetics, human rights, global ethics, and technology.

"Particular interest will be paid to recruiting innovative scholars whose research and teaching are defining and redefining their fields, challenging the disciplinary, institutional, and geopolitical barriers that limit the ways in which we analyze and respond to pressing global issues within and beyond the university," said Gene Lucas, UCSB's executive vice chancellor.

The cluster will be reallocated to a different area every 15 years following a campuswide call for proposals.

In doing so, the initiative will provide an opportunity for researchers across disciplines to build a program to the point where it can attract significant ongoing resources normally identified with major centers of excellence.

In keeping with the donors' wishes, selected areas must be viewed as a major campus priority, such as the establishment of a new program or school, a timely opportunity to move into a special area of research, a one-time infusion of positions into a critical area of existing excellence, or an opportunity to secure major long-term funding.

The four new endowed chairs established at the $500,000 level bring the total number of endowed professorships at UCSB to 64.

About the Donors

Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp are partners in their philanthropic support for higher education.

A devoted UCSB faculty member for 40 years, Duncan Mellichamp is a pioneering professor, campus leader, and founding member of the Chemical Engineering Department.

Highly regarded in the field of process control, he is author or co-author of nearly 100 research papers, monographs, and books, including an award-winning textbook, Process Dynamics and Control, which has also been published in Chinese-, Japanese-, and Korean-language editions.

Although he retired from UCSB in 2003, he continues to co-teach a senior process design course.

During his lengthy career, he served as chair of the UCSB Academic Senate and represented the faculty of the entire UC system on the UC Board of Regents while vice chair and chair of the UC Academic Senate.

In addition, he was special assistant for long-range planning to UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, playing a pivotal role in the planning process for the future development of North Campus and the Isla Vista redevelopment plan.

Professor Mellichamp is currently a trustee of The UCSB Foundation.

In the community, he serves on the board of directors of Opera Santa Barbara.

Suzanne Mellichamp is a retired schoolteacher.

For nearly 30 years, she taught elementary classes, including special education classes, in Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, and California.

She received her master's degree in education from UCSB's Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, with an emphasis in studio art, and taught for a number of years in Santa Barbara City Schools.

She now serves on the board of directors of Santa Barbara Beautiful and the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, and has been a longtime docent for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The Mellichamps have established a total of nine endowed chairs at UCSB, and have made additional gifts for other campus priorities.

They are members of the Lancaster Society, UCSB's premier donor society.

In recognition of their extraordinary generosity and devotion to the campus, they were recently awarded the Santa Barbara Medal, UC Santa Barbara's highest honor.