Four people have been selected to receive UC Irvine’s most prestigious honor, the UCI Medal, which annually confers lifelong recognition on those who have made exceptional contributions to the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

“Our UCI Medalists deserve the highest praise for their contributions to the mission, spirit and vision of our campus and community, and this year’s extraordinary honorees are no exception,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “Our meteoric rise into the top ranks of American universities is due in large part to their foresight, commitment, energy and innovation.”

The 2011 UCI Medalists:

Barbara Davidson

A Regents Scholar and member of UC Irvine’s inaugural class in 1965, Barbara Davidson raised the flag during the campus’s opening ceremony and then devoted herself to the university for more than four decades. She performed in exemplary fashion in a series of staff positions with increasing responsibility as the campus grew, including directing a nationally recognized professional performing arts and lectures series. She retired as associate chancellor in 2007.

Davidson’s exceptional knowledge of the campus, along with her outstanding work ethic, enabled her to offer sage advice on a wide variety of issues – from campus housing to human resources to athletics – for countless administrators and two chancellors. Her lasting impact on UC Irvine is felt in many ways, including the Phineas Banning Alumni House and the Qureshey Research Laboratory at the Herklotz Research Facility, for which she played a major role in fundraising. A former chair of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, District VII, she is a recipient of the CASE Tribute Award.

She and her husband, Douglas Davidson ’68, met on campus and maintain close ties with the UCI community.

Manuel Gómez

Few individuals have had greater impact on the University of California than Manuel Gómez. In a career spanning 38 years, Gomez helped create and support programs that have benefited tens of thousands of Californians – many from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to his work for the university, he has also consulted for the U.S. Department of Education, advised the California Postsecondary Education Commission and testified before numerous legislative committees. His expertise led him to being tapped by the UC Office of the President as interim vice president of educational outreach in 2001.

Ultimately, Gómez returned to UC Irvine and his first love: serving students. His legacy includes founding the UCI Center for Educational Partnerships, initiating the development of the celebrated CAMP, COSMOS and SAGE programs, co-founding the Silk Road to the Future – an educational cultural experience in China for UC students – and establishing the UCI XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship.

A published poet, Gómez served as a counselor and then director of the Educational Opportunity Program at UC Irvine; then as assistant and associate vice chancellor of enrollment services before retiring as vice chancellor for student affairs in 2010.

Michael Mussallem

Involved with UC Irvine at many levels, Mike Mussallem is a trustee of the UC Irvine Foundation; has chaired the Chief Executive Roundtable; co-chaired the UCI Medal with his wife, Linda; and served on the Engineering Leadership Council and the Health Affairs Strategic Advisory Board.

As chairman and CEO of Irvine-based Edwards Lifesciences – the global leader in the science of heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring – Mussallem has worked tirelessly to build an outstanding private-public partnership with the university. The Edwards Lifesciences Fund granted a major gift to UC Irvine, establishing The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology to support the next generation of innovative research and discoveries related to heart and vascular diseases. The center will also host training for prominent experts in the field of cardiovascular technology.

Mussallem also has been a national advocate for innovative, cost-effective policies that will make cutting-edge medical technologies more widely available.

The Orange County Business Journal’s 2010 Businessperson of the Year, Mussallem has contributed to UC Irvine men’s volleyball, the UCI Medal Awards and the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, among other areas on campus.

Larry Overman

One of the world’s pre-eminent organic chemists, Larry Overman joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1971 and has since blazed a research trail that helped create new treatments for cancer, cardiovascular conditions and immunity disorders, benefitting people around the world. His heavily cited work on the synthesis of natural products of biological relevance led to his election to the National Academy of Sciences and more than 25 other illustrious awards and fellowships.

A former Department of Chemistry chair who holds the rank of Distinguished Professor – UC Irvine’s highest academic title – Overman has mentored and trained hundreds of students, postdoctoral fellows and coworkers, with more than 45 serving in academic positions across the country. His work has appeared in more than 340 peer-reviewed publications, and he has brought ongoing prestige to the campus while leveraging significant financial support from governmental agencies and industrial partners to help build one of the nation’s best graduate programs.

UCI Medal recipients will be feted from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at “A Celebration of Stars,” the campus’s largest fundraiser and one of Orange County’s premier events. Hosted by the UC Irvine Foundation, this year’s gala will be co-chaired by John Evans, senior vice president and manager at Wells Fargo Bank, and his wife, Ruth Ann. Evans is a UC Irvine Foundation trustee on the executive committee and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Held at the Bren Events Center, “A Celebration of Stars – The UCI Medal Awards” will feature a reception and formal dinner, medalist tributes and entertainment by the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Past medalists, who include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and industry leaders, also will be highlighted. Event proceeds support graduate fellowships and other vital campus programs.

For information on tickets or sponsorships, call 949-824-1655.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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