Cowell College

Cowell College inaugurated the Santa Cruz campus when it opened with a pioneer class of 600 students in 1965. The founding faculty shaped an educational program that challenged and enriched students through wide-ranging inquiry and disciplined study. Today, Cowell has more than 1,500 affiliated students and over 90 faculty fellows. Its motto—The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends—expresses a continuing commitment to create a serious academic environment within a humane and broadly inclusive community. The college is named for the S. H. Cowell Foundation, which endowed the college at its founding.

Academic Emphases

The academic theme of the college encourages students to pursue their general and disciplinary study with attention to the values of liberal arts education: understanding one’s individual perspectives by exploration of one's historical background and world context. Students affiliated with the college pursue majors from all departments on campus.

Additional information about Cowell College academics, including Core Course requirements and other academic programs, is available here.

College Community and Facilities

Cowell’s seven residence halls and three apartment buildings are arranged in three quadrangles on a hillside overlooking the city of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. About 700 students are housed in the college. Most floors are mixed gender with all students sharing common lounges and other facilities, but single-gender floors are provided for those who prefer this arrangement. Apartments house continuing students, mostly juniors and seniors. The residential staff members facilitate diverse educational, social, and recreational programming to enhance the living and learning environment.

Arranged around the college’s central courtyard are the dining hall, the Page Smith Library, the Mary Holmes Fireside lounge, the Cowell Coffee Shop: For the Peoples, and conference room and classrooms. The Cowell Press, where students can learn the fine technique of hand-operated letterpress printing, is a stone’s throw away from the plaza. Also nearby is the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, including the Ann Dizikes Annex.

Since the college’s founding, regularly scheduled College Nights in the dining hall have offered students, staff, and faculty a special meal and a rich mix of programs. Community life is enlivened by many other scheduled and impromptu intellectual, cultural, and social events.

The Cowell Senate meets weekly to discuss campus issues and student government. The Senate advises the college on the allocation of funds for student activities and programs. Members of the Senate are selected each year by lot, but any student may become a voting member by steady attendance at meetings. The college’s student groups, staff, and faculty work together to create a supportive community for students from all ethnic groups, all religious traditions, and all sexual orientations and to increase awareness of the many dimensions of diversity in the community.

For more information on the college, see the Cowell College website or call (831) 459-2253.

Cowell Fellows and Staff

Cowell College faculty fellows are listed on the college's faculty directory.

College staff are listed on the college's staff page.