Growing a Legacy

Family of former UCSB Chancellor Vernon Cheadle, a renowned and prolific botanist, pledges $1.6 million to Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration

If there were a chancellor’s hall of fame, Vernon Cheadle would hold a prominent place. As UC Santa Barbara’s leader in the 1960s and ’70s, he guided the campus through an extraordinary expansion, paving the way for the onetime teacher’s college and then-new addition to the UC system to become the true research university that it is today.

For the vital role Cheadle played in that evolution — and for the administrative superstar status he achieved, UCSB’s central administration building, Cheadle Hall, serves as a bricks-and-mortar homage. Yet it’s a lesser-known campus facility that his family says reflects his true professional passion: the Vernon and Mary Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER).

Vernon Cheadle was a world-renowned botanist whose prolific research bookended — by decades in either direction — his time as UCSB’s top administrator. His vast collections, which include some 15,000 plants and 60,000 light microscope slides, are housed at the research and teaching center named for both him and his wife. Mary Cheadle was actively involved in campus activities during her husband’s tenure as chancellor and later as benefactor to the library and trustee of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation; together the couple were “truly a wonderful pair,” said son William “Bill” Cheadle, M.D.

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