By Tim Stephens, UCSC Public Information Office
UC Santa Cruz honored Jack Baskin for his many contributions to the Baskin School of Engineering in a ceremony on Thursday, May 22. A plaque in his honor, unveiled by Chancellor George Blumenthal at the ceremony, now marks the entrance to the Baskin School of Engineering.
Baskin has been actively supporting engineering programs at UCSC for several decades, providing guidance to faculty and campus leadership as well as generous financial support. His cornerstone gift helped launch the Baskin School of Engineering in 1997, and his donations to the engineering school now total $8.8 million. Baskin and his wife, Peggy Downes Baskin, have also supported many other programs at UCSC.
“When you look around UC Santa Cruz, you see Jack Baskin’s influence everywhere,” said Chancellor Blumenthal. “From engineering to the arts and humanities, his support transforms lives through scholarships, programs that open doors for our students, and endowed chairs for faculty that propel research and discovery.”
Engineering dean Art Ramirez said the plaque ensures that everyone who comes to the Baskin School of Engineering will be able to see who Jack Baskin is and why the school is named for him. The large bronze plaque is mounted by the entrance to the Baskin Engineering Building, which was renamed in his honor in 1999 (it was originally the Applied Sciences Building).
“Jack Baskin’s generosity and vision have helped build the Baskin School of Engineering into an innovative and well-respected center for learning and research, where students and faculty are working with industry partners to tackle the challenges of the 21st century,” Ramirez said.
The first in his family to attend college, Baskin earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from New York University and built a successful development company that worked on commercial, industrial, and public construction projects throughout California. He served as a UC Santa Cruz Foundation trustee for many years, including two years as chair, and was honored as the first recipient of UCSC’s “Fiat Lux Award” in 2005.
Baskin’s support for the engineering school includes the establishment of endowed chairs for faculty in computer engineering (now supporting two faculty positions), biomolecular engineering, and technology and information management. Another major gift in 2011 established the Jack Baskin and Peggy Downes Baskin Fellowships to support engineering graduate students. The Baskins have also supported programs to bring more women into the field of engineering, such as the UCSC Girls in Engineering summer school program, which Peggy Downes Baskin helped create and fund.
In 2006, Jack Baskin was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame. He is among the foremost philanthropists in the Santa Cruz Community, supporting the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County (which he helped found), Dominican Hospital, Cabrillo College, and many organizations for children, families, and senior citizens.