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Cowell College

Cowell College
Motto The pursuit of truth in the company of friends
Established 1965
Type Residential college
Provost Faye Crosby
Undergraduates 1498 [1]
Location Santa Cruz, California
Campus Suburban/Sylvan
Colors      UCSC Blue
     UCSC Gold
Cowell College with the Monterey Bay in the background

The first of the ten residential colleges of the University of California, Santa Cruz, established in 1965, Cowell College sits on the edge of a redwood forest with a remarkable view of Monterey Bay. The college is named for Henry Cowell and the Cowell family, who donated the land that UCSC is built upon, previously known as the Cowell Ranch.


  • Living at Cowell 1
  • The Company of Friends 2
  • Diversity at Cowell 3
  • Cowell programs 4
  • Notable features 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Living at Cowell

Cowell College features seven dormitory buildings which are named after American historians, and architecturally reminiscent of English schools. Each building houses between 45 and 95 students in two clusters known as Upper Quad and Lower Quad. The buildings are named as follows: Adams, Prescott, Parkman (upper quad); Beard, Parrington, Turner (lower quad); and Morison (though Morison's front entrance opens onto the lower quad, whether the dorm is upper or lower quad is a source of debate.) Three buildings of apartments opened in 2004. Each apartment houses six or seven students in several bedrooms that share a living room, kitchen, and bathrooms.

These residence halls and apartments have resident assistants that live in the buildings in order to offer some counseling, programming, and guidance to the students living in Cowell. There are two resident assistants for each dormitory and five resident assistants for the apartments.

In the past, another building known as La Maison Francophone housed approximately 15 students who met weekly to speak French, study French culture, and put on events for the college. This building, located behind the Humanities and Social Sciences complex, now houses mostly teachers and graduate students, in addition to the Soviet Apartment, a communal living experiment occupied by students of the Russian language course.

Topped by a glass cupola, Cowell's dining hall is one of Cowell's best known visible features and has become one of the College's icons. The dining hall serves as the primary eatery for Cowell and Stevenson College. This building has reopened following retrofitting during the 2008 school year.

The Company of Friends

Cowell College's motto is: The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends. This concept is embraced throughout the college, most in its efforts to foster smaller communities within the larger, to encourage personal development, and fostering interaction between students of all disciplines. As the collegiate system was brought to UC Santa Cruz in order to help create a small college feel at a major university, so too was Cowell designed with two quads of small buildings to further break up the College into clusters of students. Thus, Cowell works to create a feeling of "home" while living here.

Recently, a group bearing this name (The Company of Friends) sprang up in Cowell, for the purpose of furthering the applications of and commitment to the ideals behind the motto. The group takes cross-generational interaction as one of its core values, due to the grounding and enriching effects alumni can have on students. More than anything, The Company of Friends encourages students to think of Cowell as their own, and to enact changes as they see fit.

Diversity at Cowell

Cowell College has had a long history of promoting diversity on campus. Prominent in the center of the college, overlooking the fountain, is a mural commissioned by the Multicultural Advisory Board, a group that sponsored and encouraged multicultural awareness on campus for many years.

Parrington House, one of the residence halls at Cowell, has also been dubbed the Diversity Awareness House, and encourages Cowell residents to come together to promote diversity in the University.

In the 2005-06 academic year, a new group, the Diversity Encouragement Council (DEC), was founded with the aim of hosting events with the intent of engaging student dialogues on pressing issues around diversity.

Cowell programs

Cowell also features a wide variety of annual events and programs. For example, residential staff has in the past hosted a series of events each year known as the Cowell Olympics. Teams of students from the two quads, or each individual building are pitted against each other for prizes, their house name on an official Cowell Olympics plaque, and most recently, a banner to hang from the building's balcony.

Along with college wide events, the Resident Assistants in the living areas are required to run 6 house events for each building every quarter. These can range from movie showings to nature trips to discussions on current events.

Recently, Cowell's Student Senate has created a DVD Library program. Free to sign up for students living at Cowell, this program offers an ever growing number of DVDs for residents to check out for a week.

Cowell College also sponsors a UCSC a cappella group, Acquire. The group recently put on a large free show at Cowell called Acquirefest featuring all three on campus a cappella groups and some other guest groups. The event brought in over 400 people and has now become one of the school's largest music events of the year. Cowell and Acquire continue to work together to bring a cappella music to UCSC.

Notable features

As the first of the colleges to be built, Cowell is placed very strategically on the campus to have one of the best views of the Monterey Bay Area. The view from the Cowell Breezeway and courtyard extends to Monterey and Carmel to the south on a clear day. This open patio is home to several College Nights a year, and in 2002, was voted the Best Place to Study on campus by City on a Hill Press.

It is also home to the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery[2], named in honor of the wife of Cowell's first Provost, Page Smith. Cowell's library, housing a small private collection of books, and another popular study spot, is named in his honor. An unofficial 24-hour silent rule exists in this space. In addition, Cowell owns many sculptures displayed around its campus, including the Cowell fountain and a statue dedicated to students who died in the Vietnam War. Cowell is also known for beautiful wisteria plants that bloom in the spring around the college. Cowell also has glass display cases that are used to display student and class art work. They are curated by a UCSC student.

Dating from the days of the old ranch, Cowell houses a Printing Press. A course is offered that teaches students about book making.

Cowell's coffee shop serves a variety of baked goods. Focaccia bread and focaccia bread pizzas are specialties. It also serves bagels and cream cheese from Santa Cruz's own Bagelry, and has some of the best muffins on campus. It recently opened to marvelous reviews.


  1. ^ Fall Quarter Undergraduates by College (Historical), Fall 2006 data, accessed July 17, 2007

External links

  • Cowell College home page
  • UC Santa Cruz home page
  • UCSC statistics by residential college
  • Photographs and architectural drawings of Cowell College from the UC Santa Cruz Library's Digital Collections

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