Donor Spotlight: Central Coast Unitarian Universalist (CCUU) Fellowship – Melissa Stanley Memorial Scholarship


Melissa with the members of the CCUU Fellowship

Now that is a mouthful and one that left me wondering who was Melissa Stanley; what is the Central Coast Unitarian Universalist Fellowship all about and what are their connection to OCCC? Members of the fellowship, Dan Gleason and Gary Lahman shed light on my queries. Gary began . . .

I met Melissa in 1999 at a summer potluck gathering of Central Coast Unitarian Universalist Fellowship members. She and I had something in common both being medical technologists. Melissa obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in entomology at a time when the field of study was male dominated.

Dr. Stanley taught traditional theoretically organized introductory biology classes for non-science majors. Talking with a freshman class on Earth Day, 1960, she realized how poorly this approach prepared citizens to deal with practical problems facing the world. It inspired her to write “Living.”  Throughout her life, Dr. Stanley valued community service and was an advocate for increased participation of women in STEM education and professions.

Dan continued . . . The roots of American Unitarian Universalism were originally Christian, in the late 1600’s in New England.  Our faith has no dogma or creed. Instead, we have a covenant based on seven principles:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth in the congregation;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty; and,
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are all a part.

Among Unitarian Universalists , there is a deep regard for intellectual freedom and diversity of beliefs, a respect for others and for nature, and a common decency leading to a particular caring for the poor, the weak and the downtrodden – to help one another.

This is why Dr. Stanley joined the CCUU Fellowship and why she left a sizable bequest to the Fellowship in her estate. She wanted her friends to remember that the greatest comfort is to know that you are a part of nature – forever!

Members of CCUU Fellowship created the Central Coast Unitarian Universalist Fellowship  Melissa Stanley Memorial Scholarship at OCCC for all students who demonstrate financial need. Those majoring in health sciences or other science-based fields will be given priority.

The Fellowship had been meeting via Zoom but is once again meeting physically on Sundays at 10:15 a.m., at the Newport Visual Arts Center, 2nd floor. Entrance is on the West side of the building. Everyone is welcome. Each month there is a theme presented for respectful discussion and interchange of ideas.

Thank you, Dan, Gary and all members of the Central Coast Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for your continued support of OCCC students. Your donations help broaden minds.

For more information about CCUU Fellowship, contact Dan Gleason at or Gary Lahman at