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The GGSE building.

A Lasting Legacy

Anonymous gift establishes Jules Zimmer Dean’s Chair

Jules Zimmer served on the faculty for 34 years and spent a third of that as dean of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (the Gevirtz School). His legacy at UC Santa Barbara was already strong. It has now been cemented thanks to a generous anonymous gift.

The donation, made in Zimmer’s honor from a company headquartered in Santa Barbara, establishes the Jules Zimmer Dean’s Chair at Gevirtz School. Jeffrey Milem, current dean, is the inaugural holder of the administrative chair.

Zimmer served as the Gevirtz School’s acting dean in 1993, then as dean from 1994-2004. Among his many accomplishments in that time was overseeing the planning process for the school’s new building. It was Zimmer’s vision that led to the building’s defined entrance and proper sitting areas on every floor inside, as well as landscaped spaces outside. With funds raised by the Dean’s Ambassador Circle, the outdoor spaces were eventually named the Jules and Laurie Zimmer Learning Garden.

“I’m so grateful. It’s quite an honor,” Zimmer said of the chair being endowed in his name. “Philanthropic support is a statement of shared values and trust with the receiving institutions. Shared values and trust are in fact a prerequisite. While the donor for this new administrative chair is anonymous, I am certain that their values are completely in line with mine, as well as those of Dean Milem.”

Milem, who was first appointed dean of the Gevirtz School in 2016, agreed.

“It is my deep honor to be the inaugural holder of the Zimmer Chair,” he said. “Like all the deans that have come before me, I am acutely aware of the ways that financial resources, visibility and recognition aid in leading our school forward. To that end, the Zimmer Chair is a game changer for the Gevirtz School. The chair represents our shared values of academic excellence, friendship, generosity, vision and a commitment to the future — all values Jules Zimmer himself embodies. Our school will reap the benefit of this philanthropic investment in perpetuity — for that I am eternally thankful.”

A fellow of the American Educational Research Association, Milem is a widely recognized expert in the area of racial dynamics in higher education. His research focuses on the ways in which colleges and universities can be organized to enhance equity, access, and success for all students; the racial context within higher education; and the relationship between how colleges and universities organize themselves and student outcomes and faculty role performance.

Zimmer’s career at UC Santa Barbara began in counseling psychology. But as his interests grew in the field of early childhood development, he took a year off to study with famed psychologist Jean Piaget in Switzerland, returning to become program leader for Early Childhood Education. His first group of students helped transform the campus childcare center into one of the best of its kind.

“I had so many wonderful students in my life, and I feel like this is an honor for all of them. My experience as dean of the Gevirtz School was absolutely fulfilling. There were a lot of great friendships built and a lot of wonderful challenges.”