Office of the Chancellor

Monthly Message from Chancellor Howard Gillman

November 2017

It’s been a busy fall quarter at UCI, and as the leaves change and the temperature dips, the Anteater family is settling into the academic year. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s a fitting time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for around campus: spirited students, brilliant faculty, generous donors and strong advocates. Day after day, year after year, each of you makes UCI a tremendous institution devoted to improving lives and bettering our community.

That said, I’m honored to reveal that an exquisite but long-hidden collection of California art has been donated to UCI by the trust of Gerald Buck, a Newport Beach developer and art aficionado who died in 2013. It is considered to be the largest collection of its kind in the world, with more than 3,200 original works stretching from classic California impressionist scenes to a mesmerizing Los Angeles skyline and an iconic “freeway series” painting. The collection will eventually be displayed in a new building at UCI in the exact place architect William Pereira foresaw a museum in his original campus designs. In the meantime, select pieces may be viewed on our website and in a video tour guided by Stephen Barker, dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. The Buck Collection helps fulfill UCI’s goal of creating one of the nation’s premier centers for the study and appreciation of California art. We are incredibly proud to be the steward of such an impressive trove that will be cherished by the entire campus and community.

Leading health education

This fall, UCI announced a landmark $200 million gift from Susan and Henry Samueli to name the College of Health Sciences and establish the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute. Since UCI’s inception, the campus has rapidly become a destination for health professionals dedicated to improving the healthcare system, changing the way students are taught medicine, and solving health challenges through innovative, evidence-based research. I am pleased to share that Dr. Howard Federoff, vice chancellor for health affairs and CEO of UCI Health, will further this cause as the new board chair of the Association of Academic Health Centers. In this prestigious role, Dr. Federoff will work to advance human health and well-being and inform the practices and pedagogy at academic health centers across the world. We are delighted to have one of the leading minds in healthcare at the helm of this influential organization.

Getting ahead on Alzheimer’s

Michael Yassa

Michael Yassa, Chancellor’s Fellow and associate professor of neurobiology & behavior and director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory at UCI. Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory / UCI

UCI researchers are always investigating new ways to treat and eradicate diseases. With the support of $3.8 million from the National Institute on Aging, our neurobiologists are working to identify early indicators of dementia in older adults before symptoms are observed. Led by Michael Yassa, Chancellor’s Fellow and associate professor of neurobiology & behavior, and director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory at UCI, the team will test and monitor 150 adults between the ages of 60 and 85 who do not have symptoms of dementia but may have a family history of it. By utilizing ultrahigh-resolution MRI scans, the scientists will gain insight into brain structure and function and measure amyloid plaques. Professor Yassa hopes the research will help provide guidelines for designing future clinical trials to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Focus on free speech

News headlines and protests sweeping across the country have shown us that there are few issues more volatile and important than that of free speech on college campuses. This difficulty became increasingly clear when former UCI School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and I taught a freshman seminar on the subject. Today, I’m humbled to share that I will join former Dean Chemerinsky as co-chairs of the advisory board for the new UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. The Washington, D.C., center will sponsor an annual fellowship program for leading legal scholars, social scientists, journalists and thought leaders to conduct research, offer seminars and mentor UC students on free speech matters. The center’s creation comes at a critical time not only for higher education, but for our country as a whole. I look forward to serving on the advisory board to improve the understanding and teaching of free speech issues on college campuses and in the public sector.

Anteaters on the front lines

Anne Lemnitzer

The UCI community is bonded by a collective passion to enact change and put forth good into the world through teaching, research and public service. In the wake of the devastating 7.1 earthquake that rocked Mexico City in September, Anne Lemnitzer, assistant professor of civil & environmental engineering, traveled south of the border to participate in a recon mission organized by the NSF-sponsored Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. While there, Professor Lemnitzer piloted drones and helped gather more than 70 gigabytes of high-resolution visual data on collapsed buildings and neighborhoods, landslides, rockfalls, cracked ground and other affected areas. With this information, the team aims to understand why some structures fail during earthquakes and others don’t and to mitigate future destruction.

When tragedy strikes, I am often heartened by the outpouring of compassion and empathy from our Anteater community. I recently learned that Sarah Koo, a music lecturer, arranged for a group of UCI chamber music students to perform a tribute at the memorial site for victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Inspired by the desire to heal through music, Koo and her quintet played for several hours, comforting droves of people mourning the loss of loved ones. A beautiful, poignant story about the excursion was featured in the Orange County Register. The group also put together a slideshow of the experience, accompanied by a powerful quote from composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."

Dalai Lama Scholar

Each year, an outstanding student is awarded the XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship, which provides up to $16,000 for projects that exemplify “compassion in action.” This year’s Dalai Lama Scholar is Iman Siddiqi, a double major in political science and global Middle East studies, who aims to use the funding to foster educational opportunities for students displaced by conflict, war and persecution. Iman first became motivated to help after encountering Syrian refugees during a family trip to Turkey three years ago. Since then, she has served as president of Hearts of Mercy at UCI, a student club with the same mission as her Dalai Lama Scholar project. Over the next few months, Iman will work to host on-campus events raising awareness of displaced students and to launch the Refugee Students Scholarship Program, which will offer financial aid, guidance on admissions and mentorship. Her ultimate goal is to see the program’s beneficiaries return home to lead the rebuilding process in their countries.

Get plugged in

Download Amazon Alexa UCI skill

Are you up to date with the latest from UC Irvine Athletics? You can now get ’Eater Nation news, game dates and scores on Amazon Alexa devices, such as the Echo and Dot. UCI is one of the first NCAA Division I athletics departments to incorporate voice technology. Fans with an Amazon Alexa-enabled device can install the UCI Athletics skill and say “Alexa, open ’Eater Nation” to stay connected with all 18 sports, from men’s and women’s basketball to water polo and track and field.


Fiat Lux,

Chancellor Howard Gillman