$1 million gift from philanthropist Jack Baskin to UC Santa Cruz School of Engineering supports new building and new department

Retired engineer and philanthropist Jack Baskin has once again demonstrated his strong support for the engineering school that bears his name with a gift of $1 million to the Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Baskin's latest contribution will help fund a new engineering building now under construction on the UCSC campus and will create an endowed chair in the newly forming Department of Biomolecular Engineering.

"Jack Baskin once again has shown his amazing commitment to the School of Engineering and the UCSC campus with his generosity and foresight. Because his gift is so closely aligned with our long-range plans and vision, it creates an enormous impact that is most timely," said Steve Kang, dean of the School of Engineering.

The Department of Biomolecular Engineering will feature an interdisciplinary blend of engineering, biology, and chemistry. David Deamer, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is currently serving as acting chair and is overseeing the formation of the new department.

The endowed chair, established with part of the Baskin gift, will be held by the chair of the department. A national search will be conducted to hire a permanent chair.

"The endowed chair will be a tremendous help to us in attracting excellent candidates for the position of founding chair of this exciting new department," Kang said.

Research in biomolecular engineering at UCSC focuses on several key areas: bioinformatics, which uses computational techniques to sift through volumes of data generated by the human genome project and other new developments in biomedical research; systems biology, which uses advanced technology to investigate large-scale biological systems such as gene regulation and cellular pathways; proteomics (a new approach for studying the full complement of proteins in a cell) and protein engineering; and technology development, including work on new laboratory devices and analytical tools for studying genes, detecting biohazards, and conducting environmental surveys.

The other portion of the Baskin gift will go toward the construction of the Engineering 2 Building, which will provide more than 90,000 square feet of new office, laboratory, and classroom space for the engineering school. Construction of the new building, adjacent to the existing Baskin Engineering Building, began in summer 2002 and is scheduled for completion in fall 2004. The building is expected to cost over $61 million.

Part of the Engineering 2 Building will house UCSC programs affiliated with two of the newly established California Institutes for Science and Innovation--the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). The Santa Cruz components of these two institutes are closely related to programs in the School of Engineering and involve engineering school faculty.

The QB3 Institute, headquartered at UC San Francisco with major research components at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, promises to lead a revolution in biomedical research. The institute aims to integrate physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences to create new techniques for attacking major problems in biology and medicine. UCSC's contribution focuses on bioinformatics.

CITRIS is based at UC Berkeley, with major components at UC Davis, UC Merced, and UC Santa Cruz. CITRIS researchers plan to design information technology solutions to large-scale social problems affecting the quality of life of individuals and the effectiveness of organizations. Examples include networks of sensors for optimizing traffic flow and for monitoring energy use in buildings; "smart" classrooms; and medical information networks. CITRIS researchers will provide a common design for such "societal-scale information systems." Research at UCSC will focus on the design and engineering of these systems.

Jack Baskin, a retired engineer and general contractor, is a leading philanthropist in the Santa Cruz community. His relationship with UC Santa Cruz has a long history, including his $5 million gift that helped launch the Baskin School of Engineering in 1997. With his most recent gifts and pledges, Baskin's donations to the School of Engineering now total almost $8 million.

Baskin chaired the UC Santa Cruz Foundation for two years and remains a Foundation trustee. He has contributed more to the UCSC campus than any other individual donor. In addition to his support for the engineering program, he has given generously to support instruction in the arts, the Institute of Marine Sciences, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, an endowed chair in psychology, a scholarship in literature, and other departments. Other beneficiaries of Baskin's time and donations over the years include the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County (which he helped found), Dominican Hospital, Cabrillo College, and many organizations for children, families, and senior citizens.

Jack Baskin and his wife, Peggy Downes Baskin, a faculty member in women's studies at UCSC, live in Santa Cruz and Carmel.