A woman researches medieval public space; a man seeks to become a digital archivist; a professor accepts an invitation to lead; a financial advisor builds a community. How are these individuals affiliated? All are connected to the UCSB Affiliates---and their members, whose shared affection is UC Santa Barbara, are supporting the university’s emerging scholars.
“The funding came at just the right time,” says Ph.D. candidate Susan Schmidt, whose research examines the history of public spaces. Schmidt is the recipient of the UCSB Affiliates Graduate Research Fellowship. Her award will help advance critical research, and those findings will be used in a book she hopes to write about the origins of public space. “I think that we’re giving up huge chunks of public space in America,” says Schmidt. “And I don’t think we realize how hard it was to establish public space.”.
While Schmidt focuses on dwindling public spaces, library scholar Alex Dale ’18 organizes and keeps record of information and collections. “The world is becoming a digitally emphasized place, where virtually everything we do is online,” says Dale, who is pursuing his bachelor’s in history followed by a master’s in library science. “All our record keeping is transferring to the digital world.”
Dale is a UCSB Affiliates Transfer Scholar, representing the diverse and non-traditional students that the Affiliates often support. “I think [the Affiliates] is a really great program,” says Dale. “Everyone’s so kind and generous and helpful. It’s really making the difference for me in terms of being able to live and work towards my career goals.”
So who are these altruists that belong to the UCSB Affiliates? In short, they’re a diverse group whose aim is to strengthen ties between UCSB and the greater Santa Barbara community. Their scholarships and fellowships have helped over 350 beneficiaries. These are worthy objectives according to John Kay, former Affiliates president who was invited to preside over the organization from 2015-17. “We’re locals who wish to bridge the gap between the town and the university,” says Kay. This is done primarily through two avenues: sponsoring Chancellor’s Community Breakfasts in town, which serve to showcase UCSB professors and deliver content that’s timely for the community; and fundraise for scholarships, which assist students like Schmidt and Dale.
“I have a great deal of gratitude for the university,” reflects Kay, who holds his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from UCSB. Kay subsequently taught political science at Santa Barbara City College for 42 years and also served as adjunct lecturer for UCSB. “I was able to get what I think was a first rate education, met a great number of first rate people, and went into a profession that I’m very grateful for. I would like to give a little bit back in gratitude for the quality of education that I got.”
Unique to the UCSB Affiliates are the terms of membership, which is based on affinity, not background. Members do not have to claim UCSB as their place of study or employment – and their current president, Conner Rehage, is a great example of this.
“[The Affiliates] are the most diverse group on campus. There are no restrictions for anything. You don’t have to be alumni,” explains Rehage, who graduated from California State University, Chico. Rehage is not only president of the Affiliates but president of Rehage Organization, Inc., an investment and insurance advisory firm based in Santa Barbara. He anticipates increased Affiliates memberships over the next few years, which means more community events and more funding for Affiliates scholars.
“This past year, we did a luncheon at the new faculty club [now The Club & Guest House],” recalls Rehage, who met incoming Affiliates scholars. “It was really impressive to meet them and see how focused, dedicated, and motivated they were.” Indeed, the Affiliates find fulfillment through generosity and the shared exchange of ideas. Their contributions not only support worthy scholars but foster a unique esprit de corps.
“We’re open and friendly and enjoy each other's company,” reflects Kay. Adds Schmidt, whose research would be stymied without Affiliates funding: “We’ll come out the end of it and we’ll be contributors.”
Enjoy the many benefits of becoming a UCSB Affiliates member
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