Twenty-six miles across the Sea

It’s actually only 22 miles, but Santa Catalina Island is working its magic on USC’s new Wrigley Institute, which recently celebrated its grand opening – and another gift from its chief benefactor.
A BERMUDA-STYLE “roof wetting” ceremony in April celebrated the official opening of USC’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Santa Catalina Island – along with the announcement of a new $5 million gift from the William Wrigley family.
An earlier $5 million gift from the Wrigleys formed the financial impetus for the institute.
The new gift, according to President Steven B. Sample, will fund additional improvements on the island, create a second endowed chair in environmental studies and “bring us much closer to the institute’s goals.”
Morton Owen Schapiro, dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, who spearheaded the institute’s creation, presided at the opening ceremonies. “USC and the Wrigley family want the institute to become a world center for studies of the environment,” he said, “a place that will attract scholars and students from around the world.”

Julie Wrigley pours champagne on the roof of the Wrigley Institute to mark the institute’s opening. Looking on are (from right) her husband, USC trustee William Wrigley; USC trustee Kenneth Leventhal; President Steven B. Sample; and Morton Owen Schapiro, dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

WILLIAM WRIGLEY, a USC trustee, is president and chief executive officer of the William Wrigley Jr. Co. and director and chairman of the board of the Santa Catalina Island Co. In making his donations to the institute, he pointed to his family’s association with the island since 1919, saying, “We are pleased that Catalina’s unique environment, which the family has so long endeavored to preserve, will be the site of what we believe will be a unique institution.”
More than $12 million has been invested in the institute so far; and long-term plans call for an investment of $60 million by the year 2000, as well as the further expansion of institute facilities on the island.
Those facilities include the Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center, built on a 14-acre plot of land at Big Fisherman Cove near the town of Two Harbors, that was donated to the university by the Wrigley family in 1965.
In addition to extensively improved scientific equipment, progress at the institute includes the appointment last year of Anthony Michaels as its director. A research scientist specializing in ocean ecology, Michaels has already embarked upon an ambitious program of teaching, research, meetings and outreach.

THE WRIGLEY CENTER was rededicated during an event-filled week. Two days after the opening, a day-long conference on environmental quality drew leaders from government, business and industry, the environmental community and aca-demia to the Santa Catalina facilities.

Anthony Michaels

The following day, an enthusiastic crowd of visitors – who were treated to the sight of hundreds of dolphins cavorting in the waters off the island as the Catalina Express boat approached – got a first-hand look at the new facility.
Adults and children thronged around “touch tanks” displaying sea creatures and took part in activities ranging from nature printing, demonstrations of an underwater robot, kelp forest research displays, eel feedings and a special lecture presentation on the island’s bald eagles – expected to be studied intensively in years ahead – by biologist David Garcelon.
Visitors also got a close-up tour of the island’s hyperbaric chamber, used to aid divers suffering from the bends.

USC HAS BEEN involved in environmental research since 1910, when it studied pollution at Venice Beach; it has also administered the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the nation’s premier award in the field, since 1973.
The university’s environmental studies major, established only four years ago, is now the fourth most-popular major in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. More than 180 undergraduates are pursuing degrees in the field, with “literally thousands” of others taking courses in it, according to Schapiro.
In addition, USC established its Center for Research in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Engineering (CRESPE) in 1994. Currently, more than 50 experts study the environment in the LAS departments of anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, earth sciences, economics, geography and political science, as well as in the schools of architecture, business, engineering, international relations, law, medicine, public administration, and urban planning and development.

– Eric Mankin


The Island of Romance

SANTA CATALINA Island is separated from the mainland by the 22-mile-wide San Pedro Channel. Originally a land grant in Spanish California, the 76-square-mile island belonged in the 1840s to Pio Pico, the Mexican governor of Alta California, who sold it to its first American owner in 1846.
The island changed hands several times in the 19th century. In 1896, title was vested in a Delaware corporation, the Santa Catalina Island Co. In 1919, Chicago investor William Wrigley Jr. and two associates purchased the company from the Banning brothers, who had made fortunes in Southern California stagecoach and boat lines. Wrigley soon bought out his partners.

IN 1972, THE SANTA CATALINA Island Conservancy, a nonprofit membership organization, was founded to administer and preserve the island’s natural and ecological resources. In 1975, the Santa Catalina Island Co. deeded title to 86 percent of the island’s 42,139 acres to the conservancy. The company now owns 13 percent of the island’s land, in and around the town of Avalon. The remaining 1 percent is divided among various owners.
Five species of land mammals and five species of bats are native to Santa Catalina Island. Twelve introduced mammal species, including a herd of 400 bison and a substantial population of wild pigs, live on the island as well. Fourteen species of reptiles and amphibians, including two introduced species, and nearly 400 native plant species, including nine endemic species, are found on the island. The waters off Catalina – among the cleanest in Southern California – are home to highly productive kelp beds and thriving colonies of sea mammals.

Risky Business

The March 16 Los Angeles Times Ventura County section ran a front-page feature about a global warming study by an interdisciplinary USC team. The study predicted as many as 4,100 homes could be threatened over the next 50 years by a two-foot rise in sea level. Hotels, a military base and power plants would also be at risk, found the team of geographers, environmental sociologists and demographers. “If you’re an optimist, you can assume this will never affect you in your lifetime,” geographer Douglas Sherman was quoted as saying. “If you’re a pessimist, you probably should get some flood insurance.”



Illustration by Andy Sklar / photograph of Wrigley opening by Dan Avila / photograph of Michaels by Eric Mankin / photograph of Catalina by Philip Channing

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