Academy Award-winning actor and producer and UC Santa Barbara alumnus Michael Douglas ('68) has contributed $500,000 to establish an endowed chair for the Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts in the College of Letters and Science. A matching amount from UC Presidential Funds completes a $1 million commitment to support the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts.
The chair will support teaching, research, and programs in the humanities and fine arts. David Marshall, dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, has been named the first incumbent.
"I spent five of the most rewarding and formative years of my life at UCSB. It was my first taste of the arts and what was to become a wonderful lifelong career in theater, film and television," said Douglas. "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."
As an actor and producer, Douglas has won two Academy Awards, an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, a French César Award, a London Film Critics ALFS Award, a Golden Globe Award, the Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award, the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 1998. Douglas earned a bachelor's degree in dramatic art from UC Santa Barbara in 1968, and has been a steadfast and vocal champion of the campus ever since. He currently serves as honorary chair of the Campaign for UC Santa Barbara — a multiyear effort to secure $1 billion in private funding.
"I am thrilled and honored to express our campus's deep gratitude to our Academy Award-winning alumnus Michael Douglas for establishing an endowed chair in honor of our dean of Humanities and Fine Arts," said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "Michael's creative vision, philanthropic leadership, and loyal support of his alma mater are an inspiration to all of us. 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."
Chancellor Yang continued, "Dean David Marshall is an outstanding scholar, a superb administrator, and a deeply devoted member of our campus community; he leads and serves by example. We are very proud and honored that Dean Marshall will be our inaugural Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts."
An internationally known and prize-winning scholar in the field of 18th century literature and aesthetics, Marshall is also the senior humanities dean in the University of California system. He serves as chair of the UC President's Advisory Committee for Research in the Humanities, which oversees the UC Humanities Network. Marshall is a member of the board of directors of the National Humanities Alliance, as well as the organization's incoming vice president. A Guggenheim Fellow, he came to UC Santa Barbara after 18 years at Yale University, where he was chair of the Department of English, director of the Literature Major and director of the Whitney Humanities Center.
"The association of the Humanities and Fine Arts dean's chair with Michael Douglas will be especially meaningful for our students, faculty and alumni, since his professional career has been characterized by such intelligence and social engagement, as well as artistic distinction," said Dean Marshall. "I am honored to be the first Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts."
Douglas has been a longtime supporter of the humanities and arts at UC Santa Barbara. He previously made a $1 million gift to the Carsey-Wolf Center, with the Michael Douglas Lobby at the center's Pollock Theater recognizing that contribution. The actor also established an artist-in-residence program that brings to campus esteemed artists, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner and Tony Award-winning actor Bill Irwin, to give lectures and workshops for students and the public. Douglas is also a former trustee of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation.
Deans' chairs are among the most prestigious of endowed university positions. Besides honoring senior academic leaders of outstanding scholarship, the chairs bring recognition to key fields of teaching and research, address pressing needs of major academic areas on campus, and help capitalize on opportunities for the colleges and divisions that they serve.