As the economy faltered, the number of donors who rallied to support UC Santa Cruz last year jumped by nearly 18 percent, helping to boost private fundraising to $30.5 million.

"In these difficult economic times, the success of our fundraising effort is extraordinary," said Chancellor George R. Blumenthal. "It reflects the wide-ranging support UC Santa Cruz enjoys and the willingness of a growing number of private donors to help the campus in an era of eroding public funding for the university. We depend on their support to bridge the gap."

A total of 14,132 people donated to the campus during the 2008-09 fiscal year, up from 12,010 donors during the previous 12-month period. The surge was aided by strong support from alumni and parents of current students: the number of alumni donors jumped nearly 11 percent over the previous year, while the number of parent donors increased by 8.5 percent.

"Parents and alumni know so well the value of a UC Santa Cruz education, and we are particularly grateful for their contributions to our mission," said Blumenthal, noting that overall student support, which includes scholarships, reached $2.5 million, including $1.6 million for graduate students.

The infusion of support enabled the campus to nearly match last year's fundraising total of $31.6 million, despite the economic downturn.

In only its second year, the Parents Fund raised more than $180,000 as families channeled their support toward student activities, scholarships, the library, and other aspects of the student experience. In addition, parents made targeted gifts to support the purchase of equipment for the Film and Digital Media program and to create a fellowship in interdisciplinary environmental research.

The Grateful Dead's gift of the band's massive archive led private giving. Valued at $8 million, the archive consists of an extraordinary collection of photographs, promotional items, business records, and correspondence. The one-of-a-kind gift is an invaluable addition to the University Library, which will become a destination for scholars, fans, and members of the public who are eager to explore the phenomenon of one of the most influential bands in history.

In addition, friends of the campus helped fund scholarships, research, facilities, and more. A few examples of their generosity follow:

. Sony Corporation contributed more than $450,000 toward scholarships for undergraduates in the campus's new computer gaming major.

. Alumnus Nion T. McEvoy pledged $250,000 toward the expansion of McHenry Library, a gift will that will help meet a fundraising challenge posed by the Kresge Foundation. When the campus raises $3.5 million toward the expansion, the foundation will contribute $700,000 to the effort.

. Alumnus Stephen Bruce and his wife, Mona, gave $50,000 to the Center for Integrated Water Research, a new interdisciplinary initiative that takes a regional approach to water-supply issues.

. Cowell College students continue to benefit from the generosity of parent John Harriman and alumnus Gary Licker, whose estate gifts generated more than $50,000 last year.

. Students with ties to Marin County will benefit from the $100,000 Constant M. and Tempest B. van Vlierden Scholarship Endowment.

. Alumnus Quentin Hancock's $10,000 gift established The New Teachers Fund, which supports students getting their teaching credentials.