October 2020

To the Anteater Community,

As I write this, there are two large fires threatening our region, one in the Yorba Linda area and the second right here in Irvine. I know many of you are directly affected by these fires, and I urge you to follow all public safety orders and requests. Your safety and that of your families and loved ones is paramount.

Operations on campus have been suspended. All non-essential staff should stay home. Only essential work, including work that supports our on-site student community such as housing and dining, should continue inside operations. The medical center in Orange and all UCI Health ambulatory sites, except the one in Yorba Linda, but including Gottschalk Medical Plaza and the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute on campus, remain open and operational.

For our students and their families who are facing significant impacts due to the loss of their home or are in need of support due to evacuations, please contact the Campus Social Worker at campussocialworker@uci.edu or phone (949)-824-0101 for support and assistance.

For faculty and staff who find themselves also in need of support, please know that the Employee Assistance Program is a resource and you can find more information at http://www.wellness.uci.edu/facultystaff/eap/introduction.html. Additional emergency resources are available from UC’s benefits plans and UCnet provides details about the support and accommodations available to you.

The current air quality index in our region is unhealthy, so please take precautions. Avoid outdoor activity or vigorous indoor exertion. People with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors. Keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter.

We will keep you informed as the situation develops or changes. Above all, stay safe.

Fall quarter update

Students wearing masks

Corey Tull/UCI Housing

We are now several weeks into this historic fall quarter, and all of the incredible work that went into preparing for this term has paid off. Our students have proven that they want to continue to make progress toward their degrees even under these circumstances; in fact, enrollment is roughly comparable to last year’s, with nearly 38,000 students pursuing their education at UCI. We also have about 7,000 students living in campus housing (about double the number from spring and summer) under fairly strict rules of conduct designed to maintain their health. The resident students are being regularly tested for COVID-19, and daily updates are posted on the coronavirus dashboard on the UCI Forward website. Needless to say, we must remain vigilant. It continues to be vitally important that all members of the university community follow our public health directives. A special thanks to everyone who has taken the Pledge to heart and works to remind us all of our collective responsibilities.

Town hall

Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Hal Stern and I recently held a campus-wide town hall, sponsored by the faculty senate and the staff assembly, for faculty and staff. About 2,500 people watched the webinar and livestream. Among the major subjects discussed were advising employees to continue working remotely at least through the end of winter quarter, continuing remote instruction for virtually all undergraduate courses in winter quarter, our relatively strong financial position and workforce retention. There were questions on many other topics, including: ramping up research, childcare support and use of dependent care funds, vacation accrual, permanent telecommuting, campus spaces that are open, athletics, mental health resources, tenure and merit review, flu shot requirements for remote workers, COVID-19 vaccines and timing, working-from-home expenses, interim modified COVID-19 duties for faculty, and the status of capital projects. You can view the entire town hall at the UCI Forward website.

Brilliant Future campaign

One year ago, on October 4, 2019, we kicked off our Brilliant Future campaign, with the ambitious goals of raising $2 billion in philanthropic support and meaningfully engaging 75,000 alumni. Now, only one year later and despite the world’s being very different, we are almost halfway to achieving each of these goals – we have raised close to $1 billion thanks to the generous support of 65,000 donors, and more than 37,000 alumni have strengthened their ties with their alma mater. These outstanding results are already being felt on campus, as you can read in the campaign’s annual report. It is inspiring to see how people from all over the region and the nation recognize the importance of the work we do to provide the best education possible and solve the major problems confronting our world.

Campaign: 2020 Annual Report 

Campus accolades

UCI’s excellence has once again earned us honor and recognition. For the sixth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCI among the top 10 public research universities in the nation, confirming our role as a leader in public higher education. UCI rose to second in the important subcategory of social mobility, which takes into account the graduation rate of students awarded Pell Grants, testament to our ability to transform lives. UCI came in 25th in a new category on undergraduate computer science programs, jumped up two slots from last year to 37th in engineering and leaped six slots from last year to 32nd in business.

And in what is fast becoming a tradition, UCI was once again named the No. 1 “Cool School” in Sierra magazine’s annual ranking of sustainability leaders among U.S. and Canadian universities and colleges. This is the fourth time in the last seven years that UCI has topped the widely acclaimed list and an unequalled 11th time in a row in the Top 10. UCI’s history of environmental stewardship dates back to the Nobel Prize-winning research by chemistry professor F. Sherwood Rowland into the depletion of the ozone layer almost five decades ago. This work led to the development and growth of UCI’s campus culture of eco-friendly practices, groundbreaking sustainability research and remarkable green accomplishments that has put the university at the forefront of American higher education.

In Memoriam

In the past few months, our campus has sadly lost several members of our community who played major roles in our national trajectory.

Ruth Kluger, professor emerita of German at UCI, was a prominent scholar of German literature and culture who was widely celebrated for her memoir, published in English as Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (2001). It chronicles her life as a child in concentration camps during the Holocaust and in occupied Germany after the war, as well as her later life as a U.S. academic. Her memoir is taught in university courses around the world, including at UCI. Over her many years on campus, she had an indelible impact on generations of Anteater students, as well as on scholars and readers everywhere.

Paolo Sassone-Corsi was Donald Bren Professor of biological chemistry and director of the Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism at the UCI School of Medicine. A pioneer in advancing our understanding of how circadian rhythms control gene expression through epigenetic regulation, he earned international recognition for his work in transcriptional regulatory circuits and in particular for discoveries that link metabolism with epigenetic mechanisms of generating and controlling circadian rhythms. Among his many honors, he was an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received the UCI Distinguished Faculty Award for Research in 2018.

John Stahr, a distinguished attorney and prominent Orange County philanthropist, began his association with UCI in 1964, before we had even opened our doors and held our first classes, as a supporter of our nascent athletics program. He and his wife, Elizabeth, remained steadfast supporters of this university for the next five decades, including his notable service on the UCI Foundation board of trustees and their establishment of the John and Elizabeth Stahr Library Fund, which provides annual support for the Libraries’ general research collections and reflects the couple’s wish to help support all academic disciplines on campus. They received the UCI Medal in 2003 in recognition of their exceptional support of the university.

Legendary college baseball coach Mike Gillespie led the Anteaters from 2007 to 2018, guiding them to the College World Series in 2014. He was named National Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in 2014 and was named Big West Coach of the Year in 2009, when he guided the ‘Eaters to the conference title. Under Gillespie the Anteaters made five postseason appearances, including regional titles in 2008, 2011 and 2014. Universally known as “Skip,” he was a towering figure in college athletics for four decades, winning the College World Series in 1998 with USC – he was one of only two men to win the College World Series as a player (1961) and a coach. Beloved by his players and respected and admired by all those he managed against, Skip Gillespie left an indelible mark on the game of college baseball and on the people who played it.

Faculty honors

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, Henry Samueli Chair in Engineering and Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest professional honors in the medical and health disciplines. A globally renowned biomedical engineer, he is being honored “for inventing, developing, and translating technologies, such as articular cartilage implants and methods for intraosseous infusion, that impact several biomedical fields, including orthopedics, maxillofacial surgery, tissue engineering, diabetes, and emergency care,” according to the academy. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering; the Biomedical Engineering Society, of which he was president; and a member of the National Academy of Inventors. UCI now has six faculty who are members of the National Academy of Medicine.

Oswald Steward, Reeve-Irvine Professor of anatomy & neurobiology and founding director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UCI, was recently elected incoming president of the Society for Neuroscience, the largest neuroscience professional society in the world. His research focuses on how nerve cells create and maintain their connections with each other, and how these synapses are modified after injury, as well as how genes influence nerve cell regeneration, growth and function and how physiological activity affects nerve cell connections. He has served in a number of important roles at UCI, including as senior associate dean for research in the School of Medicine from 2012-2017 and as a major driving force behind the UCI Brain initiative. He is the fourth UCI faculty member to be president of the Society for Neuroscience.

Henry Sobel, professor emeritus of physics & astronomy, has been awarded the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics for 2021 by the American Physical Union. The award, the highest the union gives in the field of experimental particle physics, is made in recognition of what it terms a “field-defining career.” Professor Sobel, a student and colleague of Frederick Reines, the discoverer of the neutrino and UCI’s first Nobel laureate, led the subsequent discoveries that neutrinos have mass and can change “flavor” – discoveries that are essential to the study of particle physics today.

Congratulations to Professors Athanasiou, Steward and Sobel on these exceptional honors.

Black Thriving Initiative

Douglas Haynes, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion. Photo by Steve Zylius / UCI
Douglas Haynes, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion. Steve Zylius/UCI

UCI is widely known as a destination for the most talented and ambitious faculty, students, and staff – reflecting all backgrounds and life experiences – who see that UCI is where they can reach their full potential and do their best work. Our vision of excellence is inclusive of all, including vast numbers of outstanding first-generation college students and students from low-income backgrounds, who are here because of the opportunities we provide and because of their promise, character, ambition, and drive. As an institution created by the people in order to serve the people, we know that the more we resemble their remarkable diversity, the stronger we will be.

We have worked very long and very hard to become this place, yet we recognize that there is much still to do. In particular, we know that there is much that can and must be done to remove the cancer of anti-Black racism from our campus and from our community. Anti-Blackness compromises UCI’s capacity to educate, discover, create and heal. It therefore demands a whole university response.

Accordingly, UCI has established the Black Thriving Initiative under the leadership of Douglas Haynes, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. The goal is to find, confront and remove every anti-Black impediment that stands in the way of Black Anteaters’ success. To do less would betray their dreams and our moral being.

This response relies on each member of our campus community linking their future to the success of Black students, faculty and staff as well as alumni and communities served by UCI. I hope each of you will support and participate in the Black Thriving Initiative.

Black Thriving Initiative 

UCI Center for Advanced Care

Over the summer, we announced plans to build the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care, which will house the Center for Children’s Health, adult specialty care, urgent care and other services, in Irvine on Jamboree Road at the Birch Street intersection, in an undeveloped part of our North Campus area. This location will give residents greater accessibility to UCI’s world-class physicians, multidisciplinary care and university-backed clinical research. The planned expansion is critical to meeting the patient care needs of the rapidly growing south Orange County region. It will break ground next year and is anticipated to be completed in late 2022, pending all legal and regulatory approvals.

New UCI Health Center for Advanced Care to provide greater access to world-class care 

Election law expertise

UCI Law Chancellor’s Professor Rick Hasen. Photo by Steve Zylius / UCI
UCI Law Chancellor’s Professor Rick Hasen. Steve Zylius/UCI
If you have been following the election, you have likely come across Rick Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and political science, who is the go-to authority on election law. The author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles on election law and co-author of leading textbooks election law and remedies, his op-eds and commentaries have appeared in many publications, including The New York TimesWall Street JournalThe Washington PostPolitico, and Slate. He also writes the often-quoted “Election Law Blog,” which the ABA Journal named to its “Blawg 100 Hall of Fame” in 2015, and more than 50,000 people follow his every word on Twitter. And most recently he has been serving as an election law analyst for CNN, appearing on that network’s newscasts and television shows. Kudos to Professor Hasen on elevating the national political conversation with his knowledge and insight.

Election ends November 3

Speaking of the election, voting closes at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, so be sure to cast your ballot by then. If you live on or near campus and are filling out your ballot in advance, there is an official Orange County Registrar of Voters ballot drop box near the bicycle shop on West Peltason Drive between Campus Drive and Pereira Drive. If you prefer to vote in person, the Registrar of Voters will have a vote center located in the Student Center on campus that will be open from Friday, October 30, through Election Day. A full listing of voting options may be found on the registrar’s website.