History alumnus Mark Zemelman named 2022 Distinguished Humanities Undergraduate Alumni Awardee

May 20, 2022

By Jasmine Alinder, Dean of Humanities 

Mark Zemelman (Crown ’78, History)

We in the Humanities Division at UC Santa Cruz are proud of the achievements of our alumni. Last year we created the Distinguished Humanities Undergraduate Alumni Award to recognize undergraduate banana slugs who have led extraordinary lives and significantly impacted our world.

I am delighted to announce that alumnus Mark Zemelman (Crown ’78, History) is the recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Humanities Undergraduate Alumni Award.

After earning his degree in History at UC Santa Cruz, Zemelman went on to graduate magna cum laude from University of California, College of the Law (formerly known as Hastings) in 1983. Following a short stint in environmental law, he found his way to Kaiser Permanente in 2010, where he acted as Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. until his retirement from the position at the end of 2021. Currently, Zemelman serves as Senior Vice President in a consulting role to the Chief Executive Officer. His career also included considerable time and effort promoting diversity in the legal profession as a long time board member of the California Minority Counsel Program.

During his time at UC Santa Cruz, Zemelman studied with William Hitchcock, Jon Beecher, John Dizikes, and Larry Vesey. In this Beyond The Forest profile, written by fellow alumnus David Gleason, Zemelman shared that those UC Santa Cruz history professors focused on what he called, “a progressive and humanistic study of history.” He said “that understanding of the historic and philosophic foundations of law—the theory of society as a social contract and the justice system as the foundation of political democracy—that was the intellectual foundation I developed at UC Santa Cruz. When I went to law school, I took that with me.”

As Dean of the Humanities, I congratulate Mark Zemelman on his many achievements and hope that this award serves as a meaningful sign of our recognition.

Jasmine Alinder
Dean of Humanities