October 2019

It’s hard to believe that classes have been underway for nearly a month. The campus has an undeniable energy only found at the start of a new academic year, with students exploring their studies, faculty pursuing their passions and staff excellently supporting the entire enterprise. I hope each of you had a fulfilling and enriching summer and are just as eager as I am to engage with one another and make this year our best yet.

Brilliant Future

On Friday, October 4, the anniversary of the very first day of classes back in 1965, we announced the largest philanthropic campaign in our history and in the history of Orange County – Brilliant Future: The Campaign for UCI.

The effort aims to raise an unprecedented $2 billion in private support and simultaneously engage at least 75,000 alumni. Partnering with our alumni and community, the campaign will build upon UCI’s known strengths within four major pillars: helping more students achieve the American dream, transforming healthcare and wellness, accelerating world-changing research, and exploring the human experience. The time is right for us to dramatically increase our investment in new programs and people so that we can reach ever-greater levels of excellence and make an even stronger impact on the world.

With the public launch of this campaign, we set UCI on a new trajectory toward a brilliant future. And, importantly, it’s not just about our brilliant future; it’s about everyone’s – every student, every patient, every member of our alumni community, every business leader, and every individual in our region and beyond.

We have accomplished so much in the past 54 years, more than any other comparable university in the nation, but we’re not finished. This is just the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in UCI’s history. Together, we will build a brilliant future... for this generation and the next.

Leadership changes

Tom Andriola has assumed the new position of vice chancellor of information technology and data. He brings to this role a national reputation for innovation in information systems and a distinguished record of IT leadership in both education and business.

UCI established this new executive position to lead the overall development and management of IT across the entire enterprise, including campus academic and administrative information systems and UCI Health and Health System technical application services. This covers all aspects of IT infrastructure engineering, operations, information security, data warehousing, analytical support, and the coordination of technology architecture and strategy.

Mr. Andriola joined us from the UC Office of the President, where he had served as vice president & chief information officer for the University of California system and chief information officer for UC Health since 2010. Prior to that, for more than two decades, he held leadership roles in global business enterprises on four continents. He earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering at George Washington University, a master’s degree in engineering management at the University of South Florida, and an executive MBA at Stanford University.

Larry Anstine was appointed interim CEO of the UCI Health System, effective September 1. In this role, he works closely with Dr. Steven Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs; Dr. Michael Stamos, dean of the UCI School of Medicine; and the UCI Health System leadership team.

Mr. Anstine is a highly experienced healthcare executive with more than 30 years as a leader in large academic and not-for-profit medical centers. During his distinguished 25-year career at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, he led five of the system’s six hospitals and served as CEO of The Ohio State University Hospital. He was a private consultant to UCI Health on hospital operations between 2015 and 2017.

The UCI Health System is strongly positioned for important and ongoing expansions in its clinical enterprise, allowing us to better serve even more of our friends and neighbors throughout Orange County. Mr. Anstine will continue our commitment to the growth and quality initiatives that are currently in place. New facility construction will stay on track; our patient services will continuously improve; and we will sustain our vital role as the region’s recognized leader in groundbreaking, lifesaving healthcare research and treatment.

Faculty honors

Krzysztof Palczewski, Ph.D., the Irving H. Leopold Chair in Ophthalmology, with a joint appointment in physiology & biophysics, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. This is one of the highest and most prestigious honors that can be accorded in the health sciences.

An internationally renowned chemist, pharmacologist and vision scientist, Professor Palczewski has made critical contributions to our understanding of the molecular basis of age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal degeneration, illuminating the path toward new vision therapies. He leads the Center for Translational Vision Research within the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.

Professor Palczewski’s many contributions to science have been widely published in respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals including NatureScienceNeuronProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Biochemistry and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He holds 22 patents and has received several prestigious awards, including the 2015 Bressler Prize in Vision Science and the inaugural 2014 Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research. He is the only scientist to win both the Cogan Award (1996), for the most promising young vision scientist, and the Friedenwald Award (2014), for continuously outstanding ophthalmology research, from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Congratulations, Professor Palczewski, on this tremendous recognition of your outstanding contributions to vision science and to the treatment and prevention of blindness-causing conditions.

Oladele “Dele” Ogunseitan, professor and founding chair of the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention, has been selected as the University of California Presidential Chair at UCI. During his five-year, nonrenewable term, he will help advance campuswide goals of encouraging new or interdisciplinary program development and enhancing the quality of existing academic programs.

Professor Ogunseitan is a global scholar with an impressive record of leadership in his field and at UCI, where he led the creation of one of the largest undergraduate public health programs in the U.S. – with one-third of its students being underrepresented minorities. He has also established innovative graduate and professional degree programs, including a highly ranked Master of Public Health degree and the first Ph.D. in public health in the UC.

At UCI, Professor Ogunseitan has collaborated with colleagues to develop dual degree programs in the School of Medicine and the School of Law. As part of the UC Global Health Institute, he leads an interdisciplinary effort to promote the implementation of global health minors and to create courses that are open for cross-campus enrollment at all 10 UC sites.

A U.S. Department of State Jefferson Science Fellow, Professor Ogunseitan has been honored with UCI’s Excellence in Teaching Award, an Outstanding Mentoring Award from the American Society for Microbiology Board of Underrepresented Members, and a Leadership Excellence Award from the Open Education Consortium.

Congratulations, Professor Ogunseitan, on this exceptional recognition.

Three UCI faculty members have received National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Awards. Part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, the funding supports exceptionally creative early-career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences within the NIH mission. Only 60 of these awards were made nationwide.

Kevin T. Beier, assistant professor of physiology & biophysics in the School of Medicine, focuses his research on identifying how experience modulates activity dynamics in neural circuits, both acutely and chronically. Timothy L. Downing, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, explores gene regulation during tissue development, regeneration and disease progression. Han Li, assistant professor of chemical & biomolecular engineering, also in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, engineers biological cells as catalysts to facilitate the conversion of renewable resources to useful chemicals such as fuels, industrial commodities and pharmaceutical compounds.

Congratulations to these three remarkable young scientists.

Innovation in medical education

The UCI School of Medicine enjoys an enviable reputation as a national leader in the use of technology in training the next generation of physicians. Nine years ago, it became the first school in the nation to equip each incoming student with an iPad preloaded with medical textbooks, course outlines and handouts, slide presentations, and other essentials. The school has also experimented with Google Glass and AliveCor’s ECG device, as well as investing in high-fidelity simulations. Now, thanks to the generosity of a grateful patient and her family, this year’s incoming medical students have each been given Butterfly handheld ultrasound devices. The cellphone-like units use a novel ultrasound-on-a-chip technology to make handheld portable ultrasounds cheaper and more accessible. The mission is not just to make it easier to use ultrasounds in the ways they’re already used, but also to change the status quo – using ultrasounds in areas of medicine where they formerly would have been impractical. This is yet another example of how UCI is transforming healthcare training and delivery for the 21st century.

Study of students’ experiences and outcomes

In November 2018, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation named UCI the national pilot site to study approaches that will increase the understanding of what makes a liberal arts education so valuable. Concurrent with the start of classes last month, the School of Education’s two-year Next Generation Undergraduate Success Measurement Project began collecting data on students in three different strands.

First, data on social background, course enrollment and course performance will be aggregated. Second, students’ online behavior in the Canvas Learning Management System, the most widely used platform for UCI courses, will be analyzed. Lastly, proprietary surveys administered at the beginning and end of the two years will shed light on whether a student’s ability to think in rigorous, critical ways is affected by attending college.

A subgroup of 500 students also opted to participate in additional assessments. Throughout the next two years, this group will receive periodic questions on their cellphones about where they are, what they’re doing and their feelings toward the activity. By collecting this information, the research team will be able to assess student experiences outside the classroom.

UCI is serving as a national model for the measurement and delivery of undergraduate education and improving student success. This innovative project has tremendous potential to affect educational outcomes and student achievement, and its results and conclusions will be shared with educators across the nation.

Shakespeare Trial 2019

Last year, one of the most enjoyable and popular events on campus was the School of Law’s presentation of a mock trial of Hamlet for the murder of Polonius. Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of our law school and currently dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, acted as prosecutor, while L. Song Richardson, dean of the UCI School of Law, spoke for the defendant. The audience, serving as the jury, narrowly voted for acquittal.

On Tuesday, October 29, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, these two legal titans will face off again as the UCI Shakespeare Center, the School of Humanities and the School of Law present Shylock’s appeal of the verdict rendered against him in “The Merchant of Venice.” Dean Richardson will represent Shylock, and Dean Chemerinsky will once again represent the state. This promises to be a great evening of theater and legal ingenuity, and you can watch the live-stream or the screening and discussion taking place the day after.