UC Santa Cruz alumnus makes $10,000 gift to support classics

UC Santa Cruz alumnus Mark Engel has pledged a $10,000 gift to establish the Norman O. Brown Classics Endowment at the University Library.

In honor of the late Norman O. Brown, a distinguished humanist and influential professor at UC Santa Cruz, the endowment is designed to enrich the library collection in classical studies. Income from the endowment will focus on studies of the history, literature, philosophy, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, with an initial emphasis on resources in Greek and Roman history.

"This is an essential contribution to the intellectual life of the university--to the faculty and students, both undergraduates and graduates," noted Karen Bassi, associate professor of classics at UC Santa Cruz. "Especially in these times of dwindling resources in the library holdings of humanities materials.

"This gift will enable students to embark on new research areas in classics. The library holdings are the front lines of new research," Bassi added.

Engel and his family have been longtime supporters of the University Library. His parents, Ruth and Samuel Engel, served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Library for many years, and Engel has himself been a board member for the past decade. In 1996, along with his brother Charles, Engel established the Ruth Franklin Engel Horticulture Collection Fund to provide enriched support for the library collections in horticulture, gardening, and related fields.

Engel graduated from Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz in 1975 with a B.A. degree in philosophy. Along with three other members of his graduating class, he attended Harvard Law School. "I dropped out after a year--the main thing I learned was that the law wasn't for me," he recalled. For the past two decades, he has worked as the managing editor of the Norman and Charlotte Strouse Edition of the Writings of Thomas Carlyle, a project spearheaded by UC Santa Cruz literature professor Murray Baumgarten and published by UC Press.

"I've always been interested in classics," Engel noted. "And I did a lot of research in the library. I was planning to write a historical novel about a Roman emperor, but it never happened. I'm specifically interested in Greek and Roman history. It's been a lifelong hobby."

The UC Santa Cruz Library currently has more than 60 endowments established by donors in a wide range of subjects from Jewish Studies to the Pacific Rim. The endowments are a significant means of expanding the library collection by providing a source of ongoing support for acquisitions in a specific area of interest.

"UC libraries in general are underfunded for humanities because materials for the sciences are so expensive, and the amount of state aid that goes to libraries seems to be less than what we might hope for," Engel said. "These endowments are a great way to fill in the relative gaps in certain subject areas."