A side-by-side image of a female dancer in motion and a woman playing tennis
Photo Credit
Left: Dario Calmese; right: Jeff Liang
The arts and humanities, including UCSB Arts & Lectures, and UCSB Athletics, are key focus areas for the Arnholds' generosity to the university.

John ’75 and Jody Arnhold elevate the arts, the humanities and athletics

In a milestone for the campus, UC Santa Barbara has received visionary commitments totaling $22 million — including a record gift of $13.5 million in support of the arts and humanities — from alumnus and UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustee John Arnhold ’75 and his wife Jody Arnhold, with their Arnhold Foundation. The total number also includes a new gift of $5 million to UC Santa Barbara Athletics and $3 million for the Arnhold UC Santa Barbara-Conservation International Climate Solutions Collaborative.

The Arnholds’ generosity has touched organizations local, national and global, engaged in everything from the arts to migration to climate change. More than philanthropists, the Arnholds closely partner with the institutions that they support. In partnership with UC Santa Barbara, the Arnholds have helped to build programs, such as the Arnhold Undergraduate Research Fellows Program in English and the Arnhold A&L Education Initiative, that are creating invaluable opportunities for students. Since 2005, Jody and John have invested nearly $50 million across the arts and humanities, athletics, environmental solutions and beyond. 

"John and Jody are longtime, transformative supporters of our campus, and we are overwhelmed by their recent generosity to advance humanities and arts and athletics on our campus, in addition to their gift earlier this academic year to enhance collaboration on climate solutions,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “These inspirational gifts will have a profound effect on the students, programming and leadership in these areas. Through their giving, and John's long-term exceptional guidance as a UC Santa Barbara Foundation trustee and dynamic leadership as its board chair over the past two years, the Arnholds are making a tremendous impact on our campus across the disciplines. Their vision is one that will have rich consequences for our campus and the broader community, now and far into the future."

The new Arnhold Arts and Humanities Commons, established with the $13.5 million pledge, will elevate the arts and humanities in immeasurable ways. By investing in the vision and leadership of Daina Ramey Berry, UCSB’s Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities & Fine Arts, the Arnholds are ensuring the expansion of successful initiatives in English, in theater and dance — including an endowed chair in dance studies — and in public humanities, as well as interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Their continued generous support for the Arnhold Arts & Lectures Education Initiative brings world-class artists and public intellectuals such as Wynton Marsalis and Alvin Ailey Dance Theater to the campus for public programming, masterclasses and residencies to benefit UCSB students.

“The division of Humanities and Fine Arts is so appreciative of this transformative gift — the largest we have ever received! — which will allow us to strengthen our programs and boost their impact at UC Santa Barbara,” said Berry. “The Arnholds have been tireless champions of the arts and humanities for decades, and we would not be where we are today without their leadership. I am grateful for their continued support and for their visionary guidance.” 

John Arnhold majored in English at UC Santa Barbara, where his professors, he has said, enhanced his “love of literature and performance.” Jody Gottfried Arnhold was a dance teacher in New York City’s public school system for nearly 25 years and went on to become a true luminary of dance education — perhaps the premier dance educator in the country.

“Jody and I are big believers in a broad liberal arts education and the essential role of the humanities,” said Arnhold. “It’s imperative that students are able to read critically and to write well, to think creatively, to solve problems and to communicate effectively. To us, exposure to the arts and humanities is vital for cultivating that ability to go in depth.”

UCSB Athletics have also been a longtime focal point for the Arnholds’ prolific giving to the campus, which includes the $5.25 million Arnhold Tennis Center and, for many years, scholarship support for student-athletes. Their new gift of $5 million will further invigorate the department, underscoring the groundswell of energy surrounding Gaucho athletics under Kelly Barsky, the university’s first female director of athletics. The Arnholds’ new investment establishes and endows the Arnhold Directorship of Athletics — Barsky is the first to fill the role — signifying a belief in her vision and in the evolution of UCSB Athletics at large. The gift also provides an infusion of support to advance high priority opportunities, significantly enhance scholarship support and build community. 

“There is a whole new energy around UCSB Athletics under Kelly Barsky,” Arnhold said. “Her vision — serving student-athletes, making connections and serving the community, making our athletics programs a hub of engagement not only for UCSB, but for the broader Santa Barbara community — it’s infectious. I’ve always believed that athletics can play a role in energizing an institution and in bringing more people to campus. With Kelly we have the right director, and we have momentum. It’s exciting.”

“Uniquely woven into the fabric of campus life, athletics is committed to serving and connecting student-athletes as well as a deeply engaged Gaucho community,” Barsky said. “We are beyond thankful for the visionary leadership, friendship and philanthropic support of John and Jody Arnhold to further this mission both in the immediate and for many years to come. I am honored and appreciative to have the opportunity to hold the first endowed director of athletics position, and beyond grateful for the transformative support.

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