Courtesy Henry Samueli School of Engineering Stacey Nicholas, whose Opus Foundation facilitated a $9.5 million donation to the Samueli School of Engineering, said she greatly admires and supports Dean Gregory Washington’s commitment to outreach, diversity and innovation in STEM education. “I am thrilled to be able to make a difference,” she said. Download image

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UCI receives $9.5 million gift

Donation from Stacey Nicholas’ Opus Foundation will support STEM efforts

Irvine, Calif., June 20, 2014 – Stacey Nicholas’ Opus Foundation has made a $9.5 million gift to The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine. The donation will establish a $2 million endowed deanship; fund student scholarships and graduate fellowships; and support school programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach. It will also facilitate an ongoing partnership with St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano.

“I am so happy and so honored to be a part of the engineering school at UCI,” said Nicholas, who established the Opus Foundation to support her interest in the arts and STEM education outreach. “I greatly admire and support Dean [Gregory] Washington’s commitment to outreach, diversity and innovation in STEM education. I am thrilled to be able to make a difference.”

Nicholas is a member of the Samueli School’s Engineering Leadership Council and Diversity Advisory Board, a trustee at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, and a former member of the South Coast Repertory and Pacific Symphony boards. She spearheaded the creation of a summer internship program for high school students at the Samueli School. Nearing its 10-year anniversary this summer, the competitive program places talented high school seniors in engineering labs under the guidance of professors and graduate students for six weeks of intensive, college-level experience.

“We are extremely grateful to Stacey Nicholas for this generous gift, for her continued confidence in UCI’s Samueli School of Engineering, and for her interest and passion in increasing the number of students entering science and engineering fields,” said UCI Chancellor Michael Drake.

“This gift will allow the Samueli School to engage more students in an experiential learning approach, and that is what will ultimately give UCI engineers a competitive advantage,” said Gregory Washington, dean of the school. “We appreciate Stacey’s support of our efforts.”

The donation will be distributed as follows:

* Academic Innovation & Research in Engineering: A total of$5 million will support the AIRE program, which conducts K-12 and community college outreach and promotes interest in STEM subjects through project-based learning. AIRE also prepares entering UCI engineering students for the rigors of the academic program and, later, for the workforce by creating hands-on, collaborative, reconfigurable learning environments. Innovative teaching methods and learning technologies will be researched and utilized to ensure that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds have opportunities to succeed.

* Endowed deanship: A $2 million endowment will be established to support the Samueli School under the direction of the dean. Initially, this funding will be directed toward K-12 and undergraduate engineering education initiatives.

* Student scholarships: An endowment of $1 million will create need-based scholarships for underrepresented students in engineering.

* Graduate fellowships: A $1 million endowment will fund graduate fellowships for underrepresented students.

* Learning space renovation: A total of$500,000 will be used to create a study area within the school.

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

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