An Array of Campus News

$30 Million Donated for New Convergent Science Facility

Susan and Henry Samueli

The Samueli Foundation in April provided $30 million to help fund a state-of-the-art convergent science building on campus, expanding UCI’s ability to conduct large-scale, collaborative and cross-disciplinary research in engineering, computing and physical sciences. Construction of the 100,000-square-foot facility could begin as early as this fall and be completed in three years.

In a significant private-public partnership, the Samueli donation has enabled the university to obtain $50 million in legislative funds allocated by the UC Office of the President. An additional $40 million in UCI funds brings the total budget to $120 million.

“Addressing today’s grand challenges in society requires collaborative research across a multitude of disciplines, aligning with our STEM ecosystem concept,” said Henry Samueli, co-founder of semiconductor giant Broadcom Corp. “We hope this gift to UCI can be a catalyst for accelerating cross-disciplinary research and scientific innovations that benefit society.”

Potential ideas include developing chemical and material sensors to better diagnose and treat cancers; using big data, environmental engineering and organic chemistry to improve water supply or solar energy; testing driverless vehicles; and having cybersecurity coders and mathematicians work together on military or medical challenges.

The structure will be located near Frederick Reines Hall, off Bison Avenue and East Peltason Drive. It will accommodate more than 50 faculty members – including high-profile new hires – and hundreds of students. A community observatory with a powerful telescope may be built on the roof.

Race to the Future

UCI’s HyperXite crew

SpaceX founder Elon Musk visits with UCI’s HyperXite crew and inspects its entry at the Hyperloop Pod Competition earlier this year at the spacecraft company’s headquarters in Hawthorne. The Hyperloop, first proposed by Musk in 2013, is a mode of extremely high-speed, energy-efficient transportation that would propel a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube. Thirty teams – including university students and independent engineering groups from around the world – were invited to build and test prototypes. UCI’s vessel is designed to float on “air skis” and to brake using both a hydraulic system and electromagnets. While the competition model is roughly 14 feet long and 4 feet wide, the full-scale pod would fit 28 passengers.

competition model

The HyperXite team didn’t bring home any awards, but it will have another chance during the second part of the competition this summer.

Anteater Refs Sensational Super Bowl

UCI alumnus and NFL referee Carl Cheffers

Ben Liebenberg / Associated Press

UCI alumnus and NFL referee Carl Cheffers ’82 prepares for the opening coin toss during Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5. Cheffers, whose father was a Pac-10 referee, started officiating intramural sports at UCI before moving on to high school games. In 1995, he began the first of five seasons with the Pac-10 before being hired by the NFL. He was elevated to crew chief in 2008. Cheffers and his seven-member crew officiated the first-ever Super Bowl game to be decided in overtime (the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28).

UCI Ranks No. 4 in Upward Mobility


The New York Times has named UCI the No. 4 university in the nation for propelling low-income students into the middle and upper-middle classes post-graduation. Based on new data from the Equality of Opportunity Project, 81 percent of UCI students from the bottom fifth of income distribution ended up in the top three fifths. The study was based on anonymous income tax and financial aid records from millions of college graduates. “This data indicated what we in academia have known all along: Public universities often serve as a catalyst for low-income students,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “UCI has been a steadfast leader in empowering students from all backgrounds to equip themselves with knowledge and reach their highest potential.”

“The politics of respectability, that elusive set of guidelines that dictate how racialized Americans ought to conduct themselves in public, were complicated this week when a 69-year-old Asian American doctor was forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight.”

  • Jennifer Lee, Chancellor’s Fellow and professor of sociology
  • NPR
  • April 14, 2017

UCI Medal Bestowed on Drakes

Michael V. Drake and Brenda Drake

Chancellor emeritus Michael V. Drake and UCI’s former first lady Brenda Drake were awarded the campus’s most prestigious honor, the UCI Medal, on March 30. “The Drakes truly embody the University of California’s mission of teaching, research and public service, and their transformational legacy at UCI continues to be seen today,” said current Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Brenda and Michael’s commitment to academic excellence, diversity and opportunity is renowned, and together as a team they ensured that UCI would become one of the country’s leading public research universities, as well as a leading engine of upward mobility.” During Michael Drake’s tenure, from 2005 to 2014, UCI’s four-year graduation rate increased by more than 18 percent, and the university added schools of law and education, along with programs in public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science. He became president of The Ohio State University in 2014.

“In Vietnam, they have basically written us out of the history books – those who left the country – and in America, they write about the war from the American side, particularly the veteran side, but very little about Vietnamese Americans.”

  • Linda Trinh Vo, professor of Asian American studies, on the significance of UCI’s oral history project “Viet Stories”
  • Los Angeles Times
  • April 14, 2017

Critical Theory Is No. 1

number one

UCI’s critical theory program is No. 1 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual graduate school rankings. The campus is one of the world’s leading centers of scholarship in the multidisciplinary field and has been home to such eminent practitioners as Murray Krieger, J. Hillis Miller and Jacques Derrida. A philosophical approach to culture – and especially literature – that seeks to confront the social, historical and ideological forces that produce and constrain it, critical theory at UCI is taught by faculty from the comparative literature, East Asian languages & literatures, English, film & media studies, anthropology, political science, art and drama departments. The campus shares the U.S. News top ranking with the University of Chicago.