UC Santa Barbara, according to old stereotypes, may still conjure up the image of a lush campus by the beach, where students can squeeze in a few hours of surfing after class and live in a nearby neighborhood that is one of the nation's best-known party zones. But in reality, UC Santa Barbara over the last three decades increasingly has become a center of scientific research, and its move in that direction was strengthened Saturday with the announcement of a $50-million private donation to energy efficiency research and engineering programs.
The gift is the largest in the history of UC Santa Barbara and is from Jeffrey Henley, who is chairman of the board of software giant Oracle and graduated from the college in 1966. About half the money will help construct a building to house the Institute for Energy Efficiency, an interdisciplinary research center that looks at such things as light bulbs that use less electricity and how to transmit Internet data with less heat. The rest will support engineering programs in other ways.
Henley, 67, said he and his wife, Judy, want their donation not only to support such research but also to set an example of private giving at a time when the 10-campus UC faces severe economic problems because of cutbacks in state funding.