January 2016

Happy New Year! Anteaters have hit the ground running and are already hard at work developing new programs, making discoveries and pinpointing ways to positively impact the community. Students are approaching their first wave of midterms, our admissions staff are sifting through nearly 98,000 freshman and transfer student applications, and faculty are exploring new ideas and ways of thinking to solve the world’s problems. Less than a month into 2016, and Anteaters are off to an incredible start.

Gross gift to create School of Nursing

UCI is committed to serving our students and the community by addressing their unique and diverse needs. Recent reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the nation will need more than 1 million new registered nurses by 2022 – and UCI is doing its part to provide training for tomorrow’s nurses. I am pleased to share that the William and Sue Gross Family Foundation has made a $40 million gift to UCI to establish a school of nursing. This visionary gift, which is the largest single donation in the campus’s history, will have a significant, lasting impact on the health of our community, state and nation. As our society ages and depends more on primary care, the need for nurses is urgent. Sue and Bill’s support will result in the expansion of our existing nursing program, ensuring a top-quality education for more talented, qualified students – and the leaders who train them – to help enrich the pipeline of prepared, skilled health professionals.

$40 million gift establishes Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing 

Influencing the future

Several Anteaters dotted the Orange County Register’s list of “2015 O.C. Game Changers”: men’s basketball coach Russell Turner, who led the team to its first March Madness appearance; glaciologist Eric Rignot; law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky; Professor Anthony James, creator of malaria-blocking mosquitoes; and professor of Asian American studies Linda Trinh Vo. The Register also named Vice Chancellor Howard Federoff in its list of “16 to Watch in 2016.”

Constance Iloh, a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Scholar and incoming assistant professor in the School of Education, was selected for Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in education list. Her research, which she presented at the White House-sponsored Aligning for Black Excellence in Higher Education Summit, focuses on uncovering and exploring the stories of underserved students and understudied sectors of higher education.

Congratulations to our outstanding Anteaters!

Fostering student entrepreneurship

Crystal Sanchez
UCI freshman Crystal Sanchez was honored at the White House for winning the 2015 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge with her Guardian Locket. Steve Zylius/UCI

As chancellor, I have the distinct pleasure of sharing the campus with countless bright, talented students who want to make a difference in the lives of others. One such student is freshman business economics major Crystal Sanchez, who has invented the Guardian Locket, a necklace equipped with a panic button and GPS to alert police in the event of sexual assault. Crystal finished first in the Networking for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s 2015 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge and received $25,000 in seed money. Her invention also led to an opportunity to meet President Barack Obama at the White House. And now she is working with UCI Applied Innovation to launch her business at the start of the next academic year.

Entrepreneur at 18 

School of Education recognized

To be an effective educator, it is essential to be a compelling communicator and an expert in your subject. Recently, the UCI School of Education was one of only 35 programs in the country to be recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality for their ability to equip future high school teachers with those vital skills. UCI stood out for its course content offerings, degree plans and admissions selectivity. School of Education Interim Dean Mark Warschauer credits the CalTeach program in part for the distinction. The unique program recruits undergraduate science and math majors who are interested in the teaching profession. Program participants pair teacher education classes and fieldwork with their STEM bachelor’s degree course work to master subject knowledge and teaching skills at the same time.

School of Education gets top marks for prepping teachers 

Professor awarded National Medal of Science

I am delighted to share that Visiting Distinguished Professor Simon Levin, at the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences, will receive the National Medal of Science from President Obama this month. An internationally acclaimed scholar, Professor Levin studies how large-scale patterns are maintained by small-scale factors among individual organisms. Recently, he has worked with Associate Professor Adam Martiny, director of UCI OCEANS, studying plankton diversity in the oceans. Congratulations, Simon!

Exploring impacts of technology on child rearing

If you walk around campus or dine at a restaurant, it’s easy to see how technology has become pervasive in our daily lives. It can be frustrating to attempt a conversation with someone glued to a cellphone – and now a team of UCI researchers is studying how distracted, fragmented care can affect an infant’s brain development. Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, professor of pediatrics, and her colleagues have shown that consistent patterns of maternal care are crucial for the developing brain. Their research indicates that erratic baby care – disrupted, perhaps, by frequent cellphone use – can increase the likelihood of depression in adolescence and adulthood.

Closing the gender equity gap in academia

Across the U.S., many universities face the challenge of creating an inclusive, diverse environment for faculty and students. Nationally, women account for more than half of the population, lead men in postsecondary educational attainment, and continue to grow in career participation in nearly every industry. However, women continue to lag behind men in areas such as higher education tenure-track faculty positions. Recently, Judith Stepan-Norris, professor of sociology and vice provost for academic planning, analyzed how UCI has worked to close the gender equity gap in academia through the ADVANCE program, which is aimed at increasing the representation of women among tenure-track faculty through mentorship, specialized education and training, career development workshops, and additional resources. Professor Stepan-Norris found not only that the program has accelerated female representation among faculty, but that since its implementation, UCI has had the largest increase of this type of all the UCs. ADVANCE’s success has since led to the establishment of a graduate student-focused program aimed at boosting the number of women and underrepresented minorities earning doctoral degrees at UCI.

We're the coolest

Last year, UCI topped Sierra magazine’s list of cool, sustainable schools for the second consecutive year. From our 19-megawatt turbine cogeneration power plant to zero-waste dining halls and green-themed events across campus, sustainability plays an important role in our university culture. I am proud to share that UCI once again has been recognized as a leader in this area, winning the systemwide UC Cool Campus Challenge. The friendly, 10-week competition among the UC campuses aimed to reduce the UC’s collective carbon footprint and encourage faculty, staff, and students to actively engage in sustainable practices. In total, about 4,000 Anteaters participated in the contest by pledging to reduce energy use, utilize sustainable forms of transportation, and change their daily habits in small but meaningful ways to create a greener environment.

Cool Campus Challenge crowns a winner 


On Saturday, January 30, UCI will host one of its most beloved campus traditions: homecoming. This year, the celebration will feature a festival in Aldrich Park, a men’s basketball game against UC Santa Barbara, and a TED-talk-inspired event at UCI Applied Innovation’s Cove. Homecoming is a terrific time to visit the campus, connect with old and new friends, learn from our experts, and experience what makes UCI such a remarkable place to live, learn and grow. I hope to see you there!

Homecoming 2016