Love for Environment Inspires New Legacy

Muriel and John Carlton

John and Muriel Carlton

Muriel Carlton's love for her late husband, John, forged the connection to UC Santa Barbara and the North Campus Open Space Project. Established to conserve 135 acres of the nearby Devereaux Slough, the project features an entrance plaza to welcome visitors.

John Carlton was deeply passionate about the environment, writing articles for outdoor magazines while still a student. He met Muriel at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he was working on a master's degree in ecological journalism, the closest he could get to an environmental studies degree at the time. He taught high school in Tucson, Arizona, for 29 years, guiding Catalina High School's weekly newspaper to become Scholastic Journalism's all-time national award winner, before retiring in 1989. Muriel and John were married for 56 years before he passed away in 2015.

Muriel's sister and brother-in-law, Suzanne and Duncan Mellichamp, have long been associated with UCSB. Duncan is the professor emeritus and founder of the chemical engineering department, and he and Suzanne have created their own remarkable legacy with the University. It was their interest in supporting this new project that sparked a conversation with Muriel during a visit.

Muriel chose to honor John's memory through a "blended gift," donating a gift now to name the NCOS Plaza after her husband and creating a charitable gift annuity that will eventually provide funds to maintain the plaza in the future. She appreciates the structure of the gift annuity, which provides her with additional regular lifetime income while creating a legacy gift for UCSB.

"It feels good to make a difference," she says, and she knows John would have loved the North Campus Open Space Project. Thanks to his love for the environment and Muriel's love for her husband, UCSB has a new donor and a new legacy to steward the project well into the future.

To learn how you can honor a loved one through your gift to UC Santa Barbara, contact Ilana Ormond at 805-893-5556 or