October 2018

Classes have been underway for three weeks now, and students, faculty and staff are settling into the routine of the academic year. I hope each of you had a rewarding and fulfilling summer and is as eager as I am to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie in front of us.


Chancellor Gillman
Chancellor Gillman and the deans welcome new students at convocation at the Bren Center at UCI Steve Zylius/UCI

As we always do, we started the academic year by greeting our new freshmen and transfer students at convocation. This is always one of the highlights of my job – the excitement displayed by the newest Anteaters is contagious! This year’s incoming students are among the best and brightest, the most accomplished, in our entire state, and we are thrilled that they have chosen UCI to advance their dreams. I am looking forward to all they will achieve in the coming years.

‘You are here to do great and important things’ 

Anteater Learning Pavilion


In late September, we celebrated the opening of our newest instructional building, the Anteater Learning Pavilion. From the moment of our founding, it has been a core credo of UCI to pursue excellence through innovation. This is especially true when it comes to our students, who are at the heart of everything we do at UCI. We take ongoing inspiration from this UCI tradition to elevate the experiences of our students as we perfect new methods of teaching and learning. We strive to do all we can to ensure that UCI students succeed in their educational goals. This beautiful building – the first in California and one of only a handful in the United States exclusively dedicated to active learning – epitomizes that commitment.

New school of thought 

New dean of School of Humanities

Tyrus Miller
Tyrus Miller, the new dean of UCI’s School of Humanities. Steve Zylius/UCI

Over the summer, we welcomed Tyrus Miller to campus as dean of the School of Humanities. He came to us from our sister campus in Santa Cruz, where he served most recently as vice provost and dean of graduate studies, overseeing 36 doctoral and more than 50 master’s programs. Dean Miller previously taught at Yale University, after earning a Ph.D. in English at Stanford University and an M.A. in creative writing and a concurrent B.A./M.A. in humanities at Johns Hopkins University. Holding appointments in the English and art history departments, he speaks and reads French, German, Hungarian and Italian, as well as English; has lived in Austria, Germany and Hungary; and has led interdisciplinary research projects in collaboration with universities abroad. Welcome, Dean Miller!

Cross-pollinating the future 

Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building

Digging in at the groundbreaking ceremony
Digging in at the groundbreaking ceremony are, from left: Brian Pratt, Greg Washington, Enrique Lavernia, Pramod Khargonekar, Henry Samueli, Howard Gillman, Meredith Michaels, Ken Janda, Marios Papaefthymiou and Brian Hervey. 

Also over the summer, we broke ground on the long-awaited Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, a large research and educational facility devoted to the convergence of science and engineering. When completed in late 2020, it will enable researchers from the schools of engineering, physical sciences, and information & computer sciences to focus collaboratively on global challenges, regional imperatives, and the evolving interests and passions of a new generation of students and scholars who seek to explore large ideas and eschew the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines.

Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building Breaks Ground 

National data science and climate initiative

An example of the kind of big-scale interdisciplinary research that will be undertaken in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building is the recently announced initiative – funded by the National Science Foundation – to perfect the use of data science in climate studies. UCI scientists, joined by colleagues from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will pursue the creation of new methodologies in machine learning and network estimation to better understand the Earth’s climate system and its regional hydrologic impacts. This initiative was inspired by a UCI study showing that winter rainfall in the southeastern United States could be predicted by monitoring sea surface temperatures near New Zealand during the summer.

UCI joins in launch of new NSF-funded data science and climate initiative 

Cancer Moonshot grant

UCI School of Medicine researchers, led by Dr. Michael Demetriou, professor of microbiology & molecular genetics, as well as neurology, and a member of the NCI-designated Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCI, have been awarded a $3.4 million grant by the National Cancer Institute as part of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative. The funding will support efforts to provide proof of principal data for an entirely new class of cancer-killing immunotherapeutics with the potential to treat highly diverse types of cancer, from leukemia to breast cancer. The Cancer Moonshot initiative was established to accelerate research and aims to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our abilities to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

School of Medicine research team is awarded $3.4 million Cancer Moonshot initiative grant 

Grass-eating shark

Thanks to the great movie “Jaws” and to scary stories in newspapers every summer, when you think “shark,” you think “meat eater.” But now you also have to think “plant eater.” Samantha Leigh, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, is the lead author of a study showing that the bonnethead shark – one of the most common sharks in the world and often found in coastal waters around the U.S. – is actually an omnivore, capable of eating and digesting sea grass as well as meat. This unexpected finding not only changes our understanding of sharks and their diet, but has implications for how we conserve sea grass meadows, which are the most widespread coastal ecosystems on Earth – providing a home for thousands of fish and invertebrates, while at the same time filtering water and absorbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Alumni regent William Um

William T. Um ’90 was selected to represent all UC alumni as a two-year member of the UC Board of Regents, effective July 1. A dedicated Anteater holding bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology, he has served on the board of directors of the UCI Alumni Association for the past five years. In addition, he belongs to the UCI School of Social Sciences’ Dean’s Leadership Society and is a board member of Inner City Law Center, a nonprofit tackling homelessness in Los Angeles. Um is a nationally recognized trial attorney and litigator with 25 years’ experience handling complex commercial disputes, arbitrations and mediations throughout the United States. He will serve as secretary to the Alumni Associations of the University of California – the umbrella organization acting on behalf of all UC alumni groups – during his first year as regent-designate and then become president of the AAUC and a full regent with voting rights. Congratulations, William!

Law school 10th anniversary

The idea of a law school at UCI was first discussed by then-UC President Clark Kerr and founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. in 1965. For 40 years, a law school was imagined among the full suite of outstanding academic programs on campus. But it wasn’t until 2009 that the UCI School of Law welcomed its first students. Now, after the most successful launch of a law school in living memory, it’s celebrating its 10th anniversary. From the day ten years ago that those first students walked through the school’s door, the bar has been set very high, indeed. Pretty good has never been good enough. Excellence is the standard that is expected – and achieved. Today the UCI School of Law is known across the nation for its innovative and comprehensive curriculum, its commitment to diversity, and its public service in Orange County and beyond. The school begins its second decade a larger, stronger and more dynamic institution than even its founders could have imagined. It is truly one of the jewels in our academic crown. Congratulations to Dean L. Song Richardson, the school’s outstanding faculty and its amazing students!

First Glimpse: Introducing The Buck Collection

Last year, UCI received the gift of the astonishing Buck Collection of modern and contemporary artworks, all by California artists and most unseen since their acquisition by the late Newport Beach developer Gerald Buck. Now 50 pieces from this long-hidden trove are on display at the University Art Gallery and the Contemporary Arts Center Gallery. This is the first exhibition staged by the nascent UCI Institute and Museum for California Art, and it will run through January 5, 2019. Curated by IMCA executive director Stephen Barker, dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts; Professor Kevin Appel, chair of the Department of Art; and Chancellor’s Professor Cécile Whiting, chair of the Department of Art History, the selected paintings and sculptures show both the breadth and the excellence of the Buck Collection. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to see this wonderful exhibition of the finest in modern California art.