UCSB alum and Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas donated $500,000 to the College of Letters and Science as part of a $1 million endowment establishing the Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts chair for the university’s largest college.
In addition to the actor’s contribution, the UC Presidential Funds gave a $500,000 donation that will be combined with Douglas’s funding in order to provide the College of Letters and Science with a chair position which will oversee research and teaching programs in the humanities and fine arts departments. The newly created position, entitled the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, will be assumed by the college’s current executive dean, David Marshall, who is also the dean of Humanities and Fine Arts.
Marshall taught and chaired various departments at Yale University for 18 years before joining the UCSB faculty in 1998 and now also acts as the chair of the UC President’s Advisory Committee for Research in the Humanities.
In a press release, Douglas said that he is glad to take part in honoring Marshall as the inaugural recipient due to the Guggenheim Fellow’s long-held commitment to the fine arts.
“I spent five of the most rewarding and formative years of my life at UCSB,” Douglas said in the release. “It was my first taste of the arts and what was to become a wonderful life-long career in theater, film and television. David Marshall’s dedication and passion for the arts and humanities have long impressed me, and I am pleased to help recognize his accomplishments and the university’s commitment to these important areas.”
Since Douglas has strived to support the campus and maintain close relations with Yang and Marshall for many years, he is especially committed to ensuring the College of Letters and Science capable of providing students with exceptional resources and guidance, according to Jennifer Deacon, the senior director of Development and Campaign Operations for the Campaign for UC Santa Barbara.
“We are just so appreciative and thrilled,” Deacon said. “This has been something that [Douglas] really feels passionate about supporting. To provide an endowed chair that creates strength for our senior most academic leader for humanities and fine arts, is just a fantastic gesture — a really generous and kind personal gift on his part.”
Chancellor Henry T. Yang said in the press release that campus administration is thankful to Douglas’s support as he has vowed to continue providing philanthropic and creative guidance in future years.
“Michael’s creative vision, philanthropic leadership, and loyal support of his alma mater are an inspiration to all of us,” Yang said in the release. “Particularly meaningful to me and our campus is his leadership as our Honorary Campaign Chair as we embark on the exciting next phase of The Campaign for UC Santa Barbara.”
Douglas graduated from UCSB in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in dramatic art and donated $1 million to the campus in 2004 to fund the construction of the Carsey-Wolf Center at Pollock Theater. He has also sponsored an ‘artist-in-residence program’ that brings professional artists to campus, such as Tony award-winning actor Bill Irwin, and currently serves as the honorary chair of the Campaign for UC Santa Barbara, which is aiming to secure $1 billion in private donations over a period of several years.