UCSC receives $1 million gift to support Center for Ocean Health expansion

Gift from alumni Christine and Robert Holo will help fund center's new education wing to accommodate growth of coastal science programs

Christine and Robert Holo
Christine and Robert Holo

UC Santa Cruz alumni Christine and Robert Holo of New York City have made a major gift in support of the campus where they met as undergraduates, pledging $1 million to help fund a new education wing at the Center for Ocean Health.

The couple, who have two teenage children, said their daughter's interest in marine science and ocean conservation was an important factor in their decision to support the Center for Ocean Health at UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory. "Our daughter is passionate about marine science and has educated us about issues like the problem of plastics in the oceans. She liked the idea of supporting this project, and we feel it is going to productively serve and benefit a large number of people over a long period of time," said Christine Holo, who earned her B.A. in biology at UCSC in 1990.

The project will include the expansion of an existing classroom into a lecture room that can accommodate larger classes and seminars. The new lecture room in the Center for Ocean Health will be named the Holo Family Lecture Room.

Robert Holo, who earned his B.A. in history at UCSC in 1987, is a partner in the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. "Chris and I both have fond feelings for Santa Cruz, and we feel that much of the success we have today is attributable to the great and affordable education we got as undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz," he said.

The Center for Ocean Health is a premier research facility for coastal conservation, policy, and research. Built entirely with private support, the center opened in 2001 with 23,000 square feet of labs, offices, and classrooms, providing much needed facilities for faculty, researchers, and students. As the marine science research and teaching programs have grown over the past ten years, so has the need to increase the capacity of the Center for Ocean Health, said Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences.

"Of all the projects at Long Marine Lab, the Center for Ocean Health expansion is the most critical," Griggs said. "The world is confronting a growing number of issues relating to ocean health, and we now have more researchers and graduate students working on those issues. The Center for Ocean Health provides space for both teaching and research that will help resolve those problems, and we are grateful to Christine and Robert Holo for stepping forward with this important gift."

The Center for Ocean Health expansion will provide 16,000 square feet of additional facilities for interdisciplinary research and education focused on marine conservation science and policy. The total cost of the planned expansion is $12 million. "This is a huge gift in terms of giving us leverage for raising the additional funding needed to complete this project," Griggs said.

At the Center for Ocean Health, UC Santa Cruz has brought together some of the world's leading coastal and marine scientists, government and non-government coastal conservation and policy experts, and public education leaders. Their projects and partnerships are addressing a wide range of concerns, including complex coastal water science and policy issues; troubled sea otter populations in Alaska and California; the socio-economic impacts of storms and sea level rise on coastal communities; toxic algal blooms; and sustainability of coastal fisheries. The additional capacity provided by the expansion will serve ongoing efforts and support new programs for many decades into the future.