Monthly Message from Chancellor Howard Gillman
The Anteater community has long desired to have UCI’s outstanding nursing program become a school, and I’m thrilled to share that this dream has become a reality. Last month, the University of California Board of Regents officially approved the establishment of the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at UCI, underscoring the pressing need for world-class education in nursing science. The nursing school is made possible thanks to a visionary gift from the William & Sue Gross Family Foundation, which donated $40 million toward its creation in January 2016. Public and private support such as this will enable UCI to provide top-quality education for substantially more talented students and construct a new building to house the school. It also will aid in broadening our reach into the community to better meet the healthcare needs of underserved populations. UCI is proud to serve as a training ground that will enrich the pipeline of prepared, skilled healthcare professionals.
One of the great promises of public research universities is to stimulate social mobility and transform lives through the power of education. Our commitment to fostering student and alumni success has once again been recognized by The New York Times, which named UCI the No. 4 university for propelling low-income students into the middle and upper-middle classes post-graduation. Among highly selective public universities in the U.S., UCI ranked No. 2 for overall mobility. Based on data from a comprehensive study of anonymous income tax and financial aid records of college graduates, the ranking is a reminder that our cause is worthy, noble and important. Without the unwavering support of our community partners and philanthropists, UCI would not be the anchoring institution it is today. I hope you will share this terrific news with your family, friends and colleagues and celebrate our collective achievement.
Elevating student, teacher success
At the core of the University of California’s mission are three separate yet intertwined activities: research, education and public service. Since our inception, UCI has been a leader in undergraduate and graduate-level education, providing opportunities, knowledge and resources to help bright students achieve their goals. I’m pleased to say that our education mission reaches beyond the realm of our beautiful campus to benefit the community and enhance K-12 student success. A new study led by Carol Booth Olson, professor of education, found a correlation between teacher professional development and improvements in writing skills by English learners in grades 7-12. Students of teachers who participated in the Pathway Project, a specialized training program developed by Professor Olson, performed better than their peers on academic writing examinations and had higher pass rates on the California High School Exit Exam. The study involved 95 teachers at 16 Anaheim Union High School District sites. With exceptional UCI educators providing additional training, local teachers were able to better serve their pupils.
Innovations in manufacturing
UCI is at the forefront of implementing innovative ideas to provide sustainable business solutions and reduce carbon emissions. Recently, our campus partnered with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability to develop new clean-energy efforts that are critical for keeping U.S. manufacturing jobs on the cutting edge. Together, UCI and RIT launched the Reducing Embodied-Energy & Decreasing Emissions Institute, funded by up to $70 million from the Department of Energy and a matching sum from a consortium of 85 private-industry partners. Led by Julie Schoenung, professor of chemical engineering & materials science, UCI researchers are focusing on generating safer, sustainable materials and creating digital apprenticeships that incorporate augmented and virtual reality tools. The national initiative aims for a 50 percent improvement in overall factory energy efficiency by 2027, potentially saving billions of dollars in operational costs and improving U.S. economic competitiveness. You can learn more about UCI’s involvement in the project here.
As champions for sustainability, it’s only natural Anteaters are always looking for new ways to improve the campus and reduce our carbon footprint. Later this year, UCI will become the first college campus in the U.S. to convert its buses to an all-electric fleet, which will provide more than 2 million pollution-free rides annually. A recent survey of students revealed that electric buses were a top priority in terms of transportation improvements. Undergraduates voted to pay $40 per quarter to the Associated Students of UCI to fund the project, a testament to how much Anteaters care for the environment. The decision to adopt an all-electric fleet will support the University of California’s pledge to emit net-zero carbon greenhouse gases by 2025. We are incredibly proud to be trailblazing the path to a greener future.
A big selling point for UCI, aside from outstanding academics and an adorably quirky mascot, is our proximity to pristine beaches, rolling foothills and stunning canyons. Taking in the region’s beautiful landscape is sure to inspire creative minds. This month, two inspired alumni of UCI’s renowned M.F.A. Programs in Writing, Lisa Alvarez ’92 and Andrew Tonkovich ’93, published an anthology that offers a literary tour of Orange County from past to present. Orange County: A Literary Field Guide showcases the works of 21 UCI alumni, faculty and former faculty, including award-winning writers Michael Chabon and Yusef Komunyakaa. Andrew Tonkovich, who also is an English lecturer at UCI, said he hopes the tome will help build a sense of solidarity and appreciation for the region.
As we come together this month to honor the contributions and achievements of black Americans, I am reminded of an array of individuals who have opened doors and led the way for future generations to pursue their dreams and thrive. One example is Laura Wright Teclemariam ’04, senior product manager at Electronic Arts, who directs internal engagement and advertising for the gaming giant. She was recently named one of the top 10 African Americans in the video game industry by Black Enterprise and has made a name for herself by being a role model for young people of color who aspire to work in that area. At EA, Laura regularly attends recruitment events to meet minority students, give advice and share her story – something she hopes will let them know there is a place for them in gaming and tech. When she first enrolled at UCI to study electrical engineering, Laura was the only African American woman in the program. She got involved with UCI’s Center for Opportunities & Diversity in Engineering, which provides academic, professional and social support for female and underrepresented minority Anteaters in the field. Her experiences at UCI sparked a passion for mentorship and a desire to promote diversity in gaming and STEM. Today, having been named the No. 1 school for gamers by College Magazine and offering networking opportunities with local industry leaders through its eSports initiative, UCI has become a destination for students like Laura.
Before I close my message, I’d like to take a moment to invite you to our homecoming festivities on Saturday, Feb. 25. This year’s celebration will include a festival in Aldrich Park with a family fun zone, beer garden, music performances, art and exhibits, UCI alumni-owned food trucks, and a fireworks show. In addition, there will be a chance to catch up with fellow Anteater alums at the Black Alumni Chapter reception and a reunion for the classes of 1967-77. After the festival, our men’s basketball team will take on Cal State Northridge at the Bren Events Center.
Also taking place during homecoming weekend is a very special show by UCI’s phenomenal dance department: Dance Visions 2017. The performance will highlight master choreographers who have shaped the professional dance industry during the 20th and 21st centuries and will include new works by our award-winning dance professors Lar Lubovitch and Donald McKayle.
If you haven’t had a chance to connect with our campus lately or are looking for a way to further engage, I hope you will choose to join us on homecoming weekend to rediscover UCI and get plugged in.
Chancellor Howard Gillman