UC Santa Cruz Foundation celebrates 50 years

UC President Michael V. Drake awards Julie Packard the UC Presidential Medal

Photo credit: Nestor Guerrero

Chancellor Cynthia K. Larive, Foundation Vice Chair Loren Kinczel, Raj Kapany, and Kiki Kapany

Photo credit: Nestor Guerrero

From providing seed grants to emerging programs and research areas, supporting students’ access to basic needs, and helping fund the launch of the Baskin School of Engineering, the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and its trustees have been integral partners in the success of the campus. 

In recognition of the foundation’s 50th anniversary, UC Santa Cruz recently celebrated this milestone and honored two visionaries, alumna Julie Packard, a renowned ocean conservationist who helped to found the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the late Narinder Kapanay, a distinguished professor known as the “father of fiber optics” whose technological advances transformed the world.

Packard and Kapany have not only made lasting achievements, both are former UC Santa Cruz Foundation board members. In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the world, Packard also received the UC Presidential Medal, awarded by UC President Michael V. Drake. 

 “The foundation has played an essential role in our evolution as a university,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “The foundation’s consistent work as a philanthropic partner with the campus and as stewards of its endowment is immeasurable. Through thought partnership, advocacy, and personal philanthropy, the foundation’s trustees continue to be our most ardent supporters.”

Linda Peterson (Stevenson ’70, history), chair of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation, underscored the role of the foundation. 

“The foundation’s mission is clear,” she said. “By advancing philanthropy in partnership with campus leadership, the UC Santa Cruz Foundation fosters student success, excellence in teaching, and impactful research and discovery that benefit local and global communities. Foundation trustees, past and present, believe in the power of higher education to transform lives.”

The foundation, established in 1974, works in close partnership with Chancellor Cynthia Larive and other university leaders to advance private philanthropic support for the campus mission, while fostering greater understanding of UCSC's activities and impact by the broader Santa Cruz community, California, and the nation.

Nearly 250 people including current and past trustees, university supporters, government and community officials, and university leadership attended a June event in Santa Cruz to commemorate the foundation’s partnership with the university to advance education, research, and community service — and change the trajectories of hundreds of thousands of lives.

In recognition of their exceptionally distinguished achievement whose work and contribution to society exemplify the vision and ideals of UC Santa Cruz, Chancellor Larive presented Foundation Medals, the campus’s highest honor, to Julie Packard (Crown ’74, biology; M.A. ’78) and the late Narinder Kapany

“From the start, it was so clear that the learning available to us at this campus was absolutely extraordinary,” Packard said. “I remain grateful to UCSC for the education that I got here…that enabled me to meet the challenges that came with my job with a spirit of curiosity, courage, and collaboration.”

Packard expressed her appreciation for UCSC’s role in inspiring and transforming the public’s understanding of our oceans and the critical role they play in the future of our planet. Noting that climate change, unsustainable fishing, plastic pollution, and damage from the coast to the deep sea have all escalated, Packard said it’s going to take all the talent, creativity, and conviction we can assemble to find solutions.

“I’m confident that the UCSC family of players is going to continue to have an outsized impact,” she said. “We [the Monterey Bay Aquarium and UCSC] connect people across the planet to restore the ocean that sustains us all. This is a wonderful honor and I'm excited and confident about the future and what we can all do together.”

Kiki Kapany and Raj Kapany accepted the Foundation Medal on behalf of their father.

“Our dad was an incredible visionary with immense wisdom, unwavering integrity, curiosity, and boundless passion for learning,” said Kiki Kapany.  “I am reminded today of the countless hours he spent nurturing young minds, advocating for knowledge as a transformative power. UC Santa Cruz was a community that he cherished and a platform from which he could inspire others. The institution’s values of innovation, inclusivity, and excellence resonated deeply with him. To see him honored in this way, by a place he held so dear, is a testament to his legacy and the indelible mark he left on all who knew him.” 

“It [the Foundation medal] means so much to our family. Our sincerest thanks to the university for this profound recognition,” added Raj Kapany.

Past recipients of the UCSC Foundation Medal include Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison; former Federal Reserve Chair and current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; award-winning poet and novelist Margaret Atwood; and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and wife Betty, founders of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

UC President Michael V. Drake awarded Packard the University of California Presidential Medal, the highest honor of the UC system, in recognition of her strong advocacy for science-based practices that has shaped state, national, and global policies and inspired awareness and action to preserve the world's oceans for generations to come. 

In delivering the medal, President Drake noted that Packard’s leadership continues to inspire and expand the University of California's role in safeguarding marine ecosystems, making the university system a powerful leader in ocean conservation science. Packard was also recognized, along with her entire family and its foundation, for empowering and transforming the trajectories for thousands of UC students and early career faculty, and for advancing research across the UC system and beyond.

“The UC Santa Cruz Foundation has had a lasting, far-reaching impact on our university, helping us to evolve into a global research powerhouse and a world-class, student-centered academic institution,” Larive said. “The opportunities before us are limitless, and we owe that in part to foundation support. It’s been a great partnership for 50 years and counting.”