Longtime Supporters Leave $1.3 Million to Botanic Gardens

Bequest from Victor and Marjorie Goodman will help ensure UC Riverside gardens’ future

Photo shows the late Goodmans.

Victor (left) and Marjorie Goodman were longtime supporters of the UCR Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: UCR Libraries.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Botanic Gardens of the University of California, Riverside will greatly benefit from a bequest of $1.3 million from Victor Goodman, who helped found the gardens, and his wife, Marjorie — both longtime supporters of the gardens.

The only museum on main campus open on weekends, the Botanic Gardens receive around 40,000 visitors a year.  Nestled in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains on the east side of the UC Riverside campus, the gardens constitute a natural preserve, displaying plants, animals, birds and insects (especially butterflies) that thrive in inland Southern California.

“We are thrilled and grateful that the Botanic Gardens were remembered with such a significant gift,” said Jodie Holt, the divisional dean of agriculture and natural resources in UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. “With it we will be able to bring some key projects to completion and invest in additional maintenance of important plant collections. Additionally, this generous gift will enable us to make significant progress towards realizing the long range plan and financial security of the UCR Botanic Gardens.”

Victor Goodman was the first botanist hired by UCR’s Division of Life Sciences — later to become the Department of Biology — in 1954, and was, therefore, a founding faculty member of the College of Letters and Science.  He joined the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences in 1978, retiring the following year.  He died in May 2011.

Photo shows the Botanic Gardens.

The UCR Botanic Gardens offer a rich diversity of vegetation.Photo credit: Kris Lovekin, UC Riverside.

Marjorie Goodman started, organized and directed the UCR Bookstore in the student union, her education in humanities and geology serving her well in coordinating campus requirements for published materials across all the liberal arts and science divisions and departments. She died in January 2012.

“The idea for what eventually became the UCR Botanic Gardens was Victor Goodman’s,” said J. Giles Waines, the director of the gardens. “He saw the need for them and proposed that UCR establish the gardens. He and Marjorie lived close to campus and cherished this museum. It comes as no surprise to me that they left their estate to the gardens.”

Victor Goodman was instrumental in having 40 acres on the east side of campus set aside as the “Life Sciences Research Area.”  Subsequently, this area was renamed the UCR Botanic Gardens. A former army officer, Goodman was a skilled administrator and served as an advisor to students. He was an expert in lichens and amassed an extensive photographic documentation of lichens in the Riverside area.  He taught a variety of courses in botany, including plant anatomy, plant morphology, plant physiology and field botany.

Man walks through Botanic Gardens

A man strolls through the UCR Botanic Gardens.

In 1954 he hired Frank Vasek, a new Ph.D. in plant taxonomy from UCLA, to share the teaching load, particularly in field botany. Vasek was appointed the first director of the Botanic Gardens, in 1962. Since Vasek, the gardens have been led by George Gillett (1967 to 1973), Louis Erickson (1973 to 1981), and Waines (1981 to present).

Maintenance of the gardens costs about $100,000 annually. Plans are underway to place the major part of the funds received from the Goodman estate into the Victor and Marjorie Goodman Endowment for the Botanic Gardens, which will help maintain the much-loved gardens in perpetuity.

The Friends of UCR Botanic Gardens Support Group, formed in 1980, has more than 1,000 paying members, and helps raise funds each year to support maintenance and development of the Botanic Gardens. The gardens also receive some funds from donors.

chidlren creating fairy gradens

Children at a recent workshop at the UCR Botanic Gardens.

The Botanic Gardens offer a rich diversity of vegetation, creating a hospitable sanctuary for wildlife. Adult education garden tours and classes are offered in fall, winter and spring.  A rose pruning demonstration is held each January.

The Botanic Gardens and Friends of UCR Botanic Gardens hold two plant sales a year — in early April and late October — with plants for sale typically including water-wise cacti and succulents, California natives, hummingbird and butterfly plants, and a host of patio and indoor plants.

The popular Primavera in the Gardens, an annual wine and food tasting event, is held in May in the Botanic Gardens, and features offerings from local restaurants and wineries.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 school children visit the gardens annually. Tours of the Botanic Gardens are immensely popular.  In the summer evenings, the gardens offer twilight tours.

Admission to the gardens is a $5 suggested donation.  They are closed New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-6050
E-mail: iqbal@ucr.edu
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Jodie Holt
Tel: (951) 827-7291
E-mail: agdean@ucr.edu

J. Giles Waines
Tel: (951) 827-3706
E-mail: giles.waines@ucr.edu

Office of Gift Planning
Tel: (877) 249-0181
E-mail: giftplanning@ucr.edu

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