Major gift funds UC Santa Cruz endowed chair in environmental studies

Craig Griswold has fond childhood memories of admiring seashells with his mother on the beach in Santa Cruz, where his family sought relief from the scorching summer heat of the San Joaquin Valley.

Now Griswold is honoring his mother, Olga, by establishing an endowed chair in environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His pledge of $350,000 establishes the Olga T. Griswold Chair in Environmental Studies, which will focus on environmental stewardship, conservation, and restoration.

"We are delighted to be singled out for this honor, which comes at a time when land-use issues are at the forefront of public policy discussions in central California," said Sheldon Kamieniecki, dean of the Division of Social Sciences at UCSC.

Griswold's gift will support a professor whose research and teaching focuses on issues of environmental stewardship in the state of California, with special emphasis on management and public policy. Griswold chose to make the gift to UCSC because of the campus's leadership in environmental conservation and restoration. UCSC faculty are involved with open-space preservation, water conservation, and landscape restoration efforts in the greater Central Coast region.

"My grandparents on both sides of my family vacationed in Santa Cruz from the early 1900s," said Griswold, a fourth-generation farmer and rancher whose cattle ranch near Cambria includes a mile of coastline. "We have many photographs depicting memorable moments camping there, visiting the boardwalk, and playing on the beach."

Olga Griswold was an avid gardener who did more than share her love of nature with her children. She fostered in them a stewardship ethic that's evident today on Griswold's ranch, where he is eradicating nonnative invasive weeds and protecting habitat for endangered red-legged frogs discovered on the property. "My mother had a particular love of frogs," noted Griswold.

The Griswold family has a long association with the University of California, with many family members graduating from UC campuses, including Griswold's nephew, Luke, who graduated from UCSC.