Billionaire investor Charles Munger, the 92-year-old vice chair of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., has pledged $200 million to the University of California, Santa Barbara for new student dormitories and housing, the Santa Barbara Independent reports.
At a UC Board of Regents meeting last week, Munger advocated for construction of ultramodern student dorms similar to those he helped underwrite at the University of Michigan. The plan, which UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada described as "preliminary," would leverage underutilized areas of campus and includes a separate project to build housing for about three hundred couples on a five-acre maintenance yard site. UCSB is preparing to accept an additional 750 undergraduate students this fall — slightly more than 10 percent of the 6,500 students the UC system will take in as part of a deal hashed out last year by Gov. Jerry Brown and UC president Janet Napolitano.
Munger, who donated $65 million to UCSB in 2014 to construct a housing facility for scientists visiting the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, said there is "one huge catch" to his housing design, noting that it calls for no windows and comparing the feature to Disney's artificial portholes. "No one can tell it's not a window," he added. "Our design is clever. Our buildings are going to be efficient." Munger also suggested that unlike UCSB's other dorms, most of which are two stories, the new buildings should be taller, something the Coastal Commission will have to approve. UCSB president Henry Yang said in a statement that the project "will be studied and reviewed by the appropriate offices and stakeholders here at UC Santa Barbara, the UC Office of the President, and the Regents, as well as the appropriate government agencies and our local community." The entire project is expected to cost $1.4 billion.
"We're talking about a minor revolution," said Munger, whose grandson attended UCSB, "but it's a revolution of absolutely standard features."