Alumni Affairs bid farewell to one of UCSB's most notable leaders

In His Own Words

George Thurlow, '73

I came to UC Santa Barbara in the fall of 1969 and by the end of my freshman year I had participated in a sit in at Stearn’s Wharf protesting oil drilling, a sit in at Isla Vista’s People’s Park protesting a county imposed curfew, and all but flunked out of my pre-med courses.

Somehow it all worked out because there were English professors like Douwe Stuurman who taught me the power of the written word, and the De La Guerra manager Rita Maiorana who taught me generosity and faith.

Just over 50 years later I still owe them, I still owe UCSB and I hope I am making progress on my debt of gratitude to these and so many others.

This will be my last ride as publisher and nominal editor of Coastlines magazine and
when you read this I will have retired to do more writing and community work. I have tried to produce a Coastlines that chronicles the epic rise of UCSB as a research and a multi-cultural institution. There are always way too many stories to tell, including those that profile our amazing alumni.

What a wonderful ride it has been as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Alumni Affairs and later the Chancellor’s Special Assistant for Isla Vista.

I have met and enjoyed the friendship of so many members of our alumni association board, generous donors around the country, and alumni in far parts of the world making a difference one heroic accomplishment at a time.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but have colleagues who have given me a smile and then helped me clean it up.

What I hoped to have accomplished is moving the Gaucho culture among alumni to one of engagement and philanthropy. No other life experience will have meant as much to our alumni. At no other time has UCSB been more in need of their unconditional support. No other institution will give back so much to those that give to it.

This Covid pandemic has ripped asunder the personal relationships of a huge intellectual enterprise. The long term damage is unknown. The pandemic’s economic impact on the country, the state and the campus will mean drastic cuts to higher education for years to come. At a time when we need the knowledge from a great University to tackle social, racial and international issues, we are weakened but not vanquished.

This University will be here 50 years from now for a new cohort of 17 and 18 year olds eager to become adults surrounded by new ideas, new paradigms and new friends.

Wish I could see it but I’ve already been given the greatest gift of all: a degree and the memories from a great University, the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Go Gauchos