Santa Cruz County

UC Santa Cruz gets $2 million grant for natural history education

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - UC Santa Cruz is getting a $2 million gift to enhance natural history education at the university.

The gift from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation will provide for two endowments honoring the legacy of Kenneth Norris, a late UCSC professor of natural history who had a life-long commitment to field-based education.

The gift will help fund a new Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History, as well as the Natural History Field Quarter, an immersive course that Norris founded at UCSC more than 40 years ago. The money will also help fund a competitive grants program to support natural history research projects undertaken by undergraduates.

"UC Santa Cruz is a pioneer in hands-on learning and field education," said Chancellor George Blumenthal  in a release from the school. "This very generous gift guarantees that Ken Norris's legacy for creating transformative student experiences will continue for many years to come. We are grateful to the Packard Foundation for its generosity and vision."

Norris, an acclaimed marine mammal researcher, died in 1998. He led students into the mountains, forests and deserts of California each spring for more than 20 years through the Natural History Field Quarter program. He was instrumental in establishing the University of California Natural Reserve System, a network of protected natural areas in California. 

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