The prominent environmentalist will use his decades of experience to guide and deepen the institute’s engagement with government agencies, policymakers and the environmental community. He will help spearhead efforts to build the institute’s education, research and public outreach program.
Gold, a UCLA alumnus, will also conduct outreach to donors, provide leadership to the institute’s Coastal Center, and continue his work as an adjunct professor at UCLA. He announced today that he will step down as president of Heal the Bay but will continue to serve on the organization's advisory board.
“I’m excited to become part of UCLA’s efforts to build the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability,” Gold said. “UCLA’s education enabled me to become an environmental leader at Heal the Bay, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the university through teaching, fundraising and providing leadership.”
Glen MacDonald, the director of the institute, said Gold’s 23 years of experience at Heal the Bay give him a breadth and depth unmatched by anyone in Southern California.
“Mark has a genius for translating science so that it can be useful to local and state government agencies,” MacDonald said. “He also knows virtually everyone in the environmental community. The nexus that he can create between UCLA’s strengths and the environmental community will be a tremendous benefit, not just to the university but the whole region.”
Gold will also strengthen the bond between UCLA and Heal the Bay, MacDonald added. “We are delighted that he will stay on in an advisory capacity with them, because we really value our relationship with Heal the Bay.”
At UCLA, Gold will work half time for the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and half time for UCLA’s development arm to attract donations to the institute. Gold is one of the institute’s original board members and already teaches its “Leadership in Water Management” course, for which he attracted funding from the Annenberg Foundation. He is also a triple alumnus from UCLA, with a bachelor’s and master’s in biology and a doctorate in environmental science and engineering — and was also born in a UCLA hospital and attended a UCLA preschool, he noted.
“So obviously, I have a strong Bruin affiliation,” Gold said. “For me to play a role in building up the institute is really exciting. There’s so much that happens, environmentally, in Los Angeles that UCLA should be one of the foremost leaders of environmental science in the nation. The opportunity to build that and have a hybrid job that’s part academic, part development is really appealing.”
Tony Pritzker, chairman of the institute’s board of advisors, described Gold as “one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met.” The two also served together on Heal the Bay’s board.
“He knows the science, and he’s a great educator,” Pritzker said. “He also understands that business has to continue and we have to build roads and schools, but his special quality is that he knows how to balance that with environmental needs. He also has the ability to pick up the phone and talk to anybody like a friend and make his case in a very cogent way. Those are all qualities that we want to bring to UCLA.”
Gold joined Heal the Bay in 1988 as a staff scientist and the agency’s first employee. He became executive director in 1994 and president in 2006.
He has worked extensively over the last 25 years in the field of coastal protection and water pollution and is recognized as one of California’s leading environmental advocates. He has authored or co-authored numerous California coastal protection, water quality and environmental education bills. Among many other achievements, Gold was at the helm when Heal the Bay began releasing their Beach Report Cards in 1990 and when the organization opened the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in 2003.
“Everyone who lives in or visits Southern California has benefited from Mark Gold’s tireless efforts to keep our waters safe and clean,” said Matt Hart, chairman of Heal the Bay’s board of directors. “We thank Mark Gold for his leadership and service to Heal the Bay and wish him the best of luck in his new career at UCLA.”
The Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is an educational and research institute that unites disciplines: physical, life and social sciences; business and economics; public policy and urban planning; engineering and technology; and medicine and public health. IoES includes multiple cross-disciplinary research centers, and its environmental science undergraduate degree program is one of the fastest growing majors at UCLA. IoES advises businesses and policymakers on sustainability and the environment and informs and encourages community discussion about critical environmental issues.
UCLA is California’s largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university’s 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.