By Naveed Mansoori

With his most recent donation of $1 million to UC Santa Cruz, Jack Baskin—who has donated a total of $8 million to the school—continues to demonstrate his support of UCSC.

The Humanities Division and the Baskin’s School of Engineering both received $500,000 from Baskin’s gift in order to create endowed chairs in their departments.

The Peggy Downes Baskin Humanities Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies in Ethics will emphasize the role of ethics in both the sciences and the humanities.

Georges Van Den Abeele, the dean of Humanities, believes that the endowments will be positive for UCSC’s image as a leader in facing the questions of ethics that have sparked much debate in the world of science.

“The new, generously funded Peggy Downes Baskin Humanities Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies in Ethics will enable the UCSC campus to become…the privileged venue for the articulation of creative solutions to the perceived crisis in values said to reign in postindustrial and technological advanced societies,” Van Den Abeele wrote in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press.

Stephen Kang, dean of Engineering, sees ethics as being at the core of any field of study.

“If you build your future based on ethics, it’s like building a huge building on a rock basis,” Kang said. “But with a poor understanding of ethics, it’s like building a structure on sand. It’s disastrous to do so.”

The second endowment will support the Jack Baskin Endowed Chair in Technology and Information Management (TIM). TIM is a relatively modern field, created to shadow the economy’s shift to a dependency on white-collar service.

Steven Bourdow, director of development in engineering, said that information management has become a crucial field in the 21st century.

“Computer science didn’t exist in 1965, but over time they realized that this is a really distinct discipline, this is where services are heading,” Bourdow said. “People have to understand the TIM infrastructure. They have to understand its impact on business.”

UCSC’s engineering department celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday, and has just added a bioengineering major, which students will be able to declare beginning next quarter.

“There are two things that come with an endowed chair: the prestige [as] they are seen as leaders of their field, and the strengthening of the programs,” Bourdow said.

Jack Baskin, a highly successful building developer and the namesake of UCSC’s engineering buildings, donated $5 million to UCSC in 1997 to launch the university’s school of engineering.

“I guess we wanted to do something with the money,” Baskin said. “We don’t want to take it with us, and our children will be very comfortable, and we don’t want them to be wealthy on their own. What better way to give to causes that we believe in and support.”