College Eight is now Rachel Carson College

September 15, 2016


Thanks to the generosity. foresight and commitment of three supporters of UCSC, College Eight will receive an endowment and a Presidential Chair, and will be named in honor of Rachel L. Carson (1907-1964), a marine biologist and author of Silent Spring. This makes the College the first at UCSC to be named after a women and a scientist.

Carson wrote several lyrical books about the ocean, including The Sea Around Us and Under the Sea-Wind, and worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and its successor the National Fish and Wildlife Service until 1951. She is best known for Silent Spring (1962), a searing indictment of the indiscriminate use of highly-toxic and bioaccumulative pesticides, such as DDT, whose use was banned in the United States, in part due to her work.  Silent Spring and the controversy surrounding both the book and thesis played a major role, many agree, in launching the environmental movement in the United States and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson was a pioneer in assessing the relationship between "Environment and Society," the College's theme and a focus of its academic curriculum and related research projects.  For too long, nature has been treated as an infinite sink for pollutants and a limitless source of raw materials and species.  More than 50 years after the publication of Silent Spring, we have yet to learn fully the costs of this indifference to the environment and a single-minded dedication to individual interests and desires. Today, more than ever, it is incumbent upon us--students, faculty, alumni, the public--to understand that the environmental challenges we and the world face are the result of many societal decisions and actions.  The College's mission is to provide the knowledge, tools and skills that our graduates will need to successfully address those challenges in the future, without creating new and more serious problems in the process.

The endowment is a gift from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation, which also funded reconstruction of the Hay Barn.  The chair, to be known as the Robert Headley Presidential Chair in Integral Ecology and Environmental Justice, is being funded by the Webster Foundation and the UC Office of the President, in combination with a gift from Mark Headley and Christina Pehl.  The Chair will be occupied by a faculty member whose teaching, research and service are especially inclusive of undergraduates in the College and across the campus and who is dedicated to educating UC Santa Cruz students about the conceptual and applied aspects of environmental science, policy and stewardship.  The Chair will teach, advise, mentor and engage with students in classes and applied research projects.  Through participation on committees and in activities on campus, across the UC-system, in California, nationally and internationally, the Chair will foster the development and communication of knowledge in the area of environmental science, policy and stewardship.