Advantages of locating university at geographic center Front page, <em>Santa Cruz Sentinel</em>

I remember getting out of the car. There were no students. It must have been spring break. I remember walking up and seeing Merrill College... This is a chance to record my first impressions of the campus, which even are sustained today. Where is the campus? That was my first question. There’s no campanile. There’s no tower.

There’s no there there.

That was my first orientation towards something that I’ve become accustomed to now, that the campus is everywhere at Santa Cruz. There is no center of the campus, really. 

from Karl Pister, chancellor emeritus, oral history


The decision to move out of the meadow

In contrast to the earlier proposals from the Santa Cruz community, the LRDP Design Team recommended that the core of the campus move northward into the forest. At its July 1962 meeting, the Board of Regents toured the site and enthusiastically endorsed the design team’s recommendation. A plan was developed that avoided rigid, geometric site planning by carefully analyzing the site, siting buildings carefully within their surroundings, and protecting the lower grasslands.


University of California, Santa Cruz planning: UC Regents tour the site for UC Santa Cruz: Chancellor McHenry, with Gerald Hagar, president of the regents board; Elinor Heller, a regent; John Carl Warnecke, head of the campus architectural team; and Donald McLaughlin, a regent

Regent Elinor Raas Heller, pictured here on the July 19, 1962, campus visit with, left to right, Regent Gerald Hagar, architect John Carl Warnecke, Regent Donald McLaughlin, and Chancellor Dean McHenry

Regent Heller was an important voice on UCSC’s Campus Planning Committee during the creation and early growth of the campus. Appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Edmund G. Brown in December 1961 to serve out the term of her husband, who died that year, she continued as a Regent until 1976 and was named first female chairman in 1975. A staunch liberal, in 1970 she was one of only six regents who voted against firing Angela Davis from her teaching position at UCLA.

In her oral history, Regent Heller described her perspective on UCSC’s planning:

Clark Kerr asked me if I would informally be a member of the Santa Cruz Campus Planning Committee... I just tramped that campus from beginning to end... It was a fascinating experience. [The] campus as it touches the city of Santa Cruz, has this glorious large meadow. Just beautiful. There were those on the campus planning, and also on the Regents, who wanted to build on the meadow first, keep the rest of the campus in reserve. I was among the group—fortunately Tommy Church was also part of my group, but [Regent] Don McLaughlin was not—that believed we should start our first building just where the trees started, and keep the meadow unbuilt upon. Well, we won, thank heavens...

But I always said that Tommy Church, the landscape architect, was the real architect of Santa Cruz. If you've ever looked at Santa Cruz, the trees are more important than the buildings. The Santa Cruz physical plan is really very interesting, because the buildings didn't have to relate to each other essentially—the trees were the binding factor.

"The nature of a magnificent wilderness site"