Largest gift in UCSB history to be used on a housing project for visiting scholars

Oct 24, 2014

Artist rendering of the visitor housing project for the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

A massive donation to UC Santa Barbara—in fact, the largest in school history—is helping the University move forward with a major construction project.

Wall Street investor and billionaire Charles Munger is giving $65 million to the help with the effort. The money will be spent on a new visitor housing facility for the campus-based Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

The Institute's director, Astrophysicist Lars Bildsten, says the addition will help visiting scholars make better use of their program time when on the UCSB campus.

"We have three of those programs running for example right now, which means we have about 75 to 80 visitors in the building," said Bildsten. "So during the day they're here interacting and doing their thing, but what we really wanted to have was a single place to house the majority of them so that those interactions could continue into the evenings, weekends, also help with housing those that are coming with families—basically just build a big physics house."

Half of the visitors come from outside the U.S. and stay for about a month. They are mostly faculty from other Universities who visit UCSB to interact with their scientific peers. 

The building's design has been worked on for years and final approval is expected this weekend. Bildsten says construction could commence as early as next week. 

The Kavli Institute is the same collaborative location on campus where recently-selected Nobel Prize Winning Professor Shuji Nakamura is based.