UC Santa Barbara has received a $500,000 gift from campus benefactor Sara Miller McCune to establish an endowment that will provide ongoing support for the student intern and public service program at the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life. In recognition of her gift, the program will be named in McCune’s honor.

Sarah Miller McCune
Paul Wellman

The recent contribution will help enrich the education of UCSB undergraduates by providing additional opportunities for students to participate in the center’s highly competitive, yearlong internship program. The program includes coursework and training in nonprofit organizations and the opportunity to serve as interns through UC educational centers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

“On behalf of UC Santa Barbara I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Sara Miller McCune for her extraordinary dedication and commitment to the future of the Capps Center,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “The Sara Miller McCune Internship and Public Service Program will greatly enhance the education of our students by allowing them to explore their civic interests and develop leadership skills, while performing meaningful community and public service.”

The Capps Center promotes the study and discussion of issues related to ethics, religion, values, and public life in a variety of ways, including conferences, guest speakers, classes, student internships, and fellowships. McCune, who was instrumental in the center’s formation, is publisher and chairman of SAGE Publications, Inc., a leading academic publisher. She is also founder of Miller-McCune, a national public policy magazine. At UCSB, McCune serves on the Capps Center’s national advisory board, and is a former trustee and officer of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation.

“The Capps internships provide intelligent students with meaningful work experience in carefully selected nonprofits in our own community, as well as the alternative of an eye-opening position in either Washington, D.C., or Sacramento,” said McCune.

Wade Clark Roof, director of the Capps Center and Rowny Professor of Religious Studies, said that McCune’s generous contribution is an affirmation of the quality and importance of the center’s public service educational program. “Sara’s gift is especially important because it comes at a time when the number of paid student internship opportunities for college students nationwide is dwindling. We feel very fulfilled in knowing that our efforts have been recognized and that this program will continue to flourish and help train tomorrow’s civic leaders.”

The Capps Center honors the legacy of Walter Capps, a popular professor of religious studies at UCSB, who in 1996 was elected to the House of Representatives from California’s 23rd Congressional District. He was an advocate of ardent but polite discourse with an uncommon commitment to civility and duty. After his death in 1997, his widow, Lois Capps, succeeded him in Congress. She continues to represent California’s 23rd Congressional District.

“This is a very generous gift that will help the center provide so many students with invaluable first-hand experience in public service,” said Lois Capps. “It’s a wonderful gesture that invests in our community’s most treasured asset – our young people.”

Throughout Walter Capps’s career, he sought to bring the university and the community together. He believed that the values of diverse religions could enrich public life, and that the inclusion of all perspectives was vital to an informed and engaged citizenry.

Since the internship program was launched two years ago, McCune has met many of the recipients. “They are bright, engaging and passionate advocates for their beliefs,” she said. “In other words, they remind me of members of the Capps family, especially Walter. He would be proud of them, as I am. It is no wonder that competition is intense for these wonderful and life-enhancing, and sometimes life-changing, internships.”

Several Capps interns have been offered employment with the nonprofit organizations where they were mentored. Others have gone on to Teach for America, or have joined the Peace Corp, or other service-oriented programs, both in this country and abroad.

Over the years, McCune has been a leading donor to UCSB who has provided critical funding to many areas of the campus, including programming for the Capps Center, an endowed chair for the dean of social sciences, and more.


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