In 2020, UCSC donors demonstrated how giving can make a positive difference even in a period of turmoil

January 25, 2021 | J. D. Hillard | UCSC

Last year often seemed like 365 days of calamity. In many cases, though, the year’s adversity drove the activities of UCSC researchers and donors. Like characters in a superhero movie, they ran toward the trouble even as most people were just trying to find safety.

Though it disrupted schedules, the pandemic didn’t hamper 2020’s Giving Day, which raised one of its highest-ever totals—providing direct funding for nearly 100 student groups and academic programs. Meanwhile, generosity poured in to help Slug Support ensure the pandemic wouldn’t derail students’ academic goals. Donors responded again after August’s CZU Lightning Complex fires when numerous staff, faculty, and students saw their homes burned to the ground

“Donors truly rose to the challenges 2020 presented,” said Associate Vice Chancellor of Development Jeff Shilling. “The generosity and dedication of the UCSC community was on full display.”

Researchers and donors earned widespread praise for contributions to the fight against COVID-19. In early February the Genomics Institute created the SARS CoV-2 Genome Browser, which has become a critical tool for scientists worldwide. Private support has been instrumental in the browser’s development.

In April, a group of scientists, with support from key donors, uprighted a diagnostic lab in a temporary space to meet Santa Cruz County’s urgent need for COVID-19 testing. In December, thanks to a significant gift from Bud and Rebecca Colligan, the lab found a permanent home. When the need for virus testing subsides, the lab’s genetic sequencing capacity will be devoted to identifying effective treatments for persistent cancers. 

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