Dancers and Singers at the 'Celebration of Stars'
Dancers from UC Irvine's Claire Trevor School of the Arts perform an original dance number accompanied by singers doing an a cappella version of "Shenandoah." Puma Images

More than 550 guests turned out Saturday, Oct. 27, for “A Celebration of Stars – The 2012 Medal Awards.” UC Irvine’s signature event honors recipients of the UCI Medal for their profound impact on the university. The 2012 awardees are Sue and Bill Gross, Elizabeth Loftus, and Drs. Betty Tu and David Tsoong.

“I am thankful to our friends and community partners for joining me to honor this stellar group of individuals,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “Our UCI Medal recipients have given extraordinary contributions of time, talent and support to UC Irvine, and they exemplify the campus’s mission and values.”

Hosted by the UC Irvine Foundation, the 2012 “Celebration of Stars” was co-chaired by Ruth Ann and John Evans. A senior vice president and regional manager at Wells Fargo Bank, John Evans is a foundation trustee and sits on its executive committee, as well as the Dean’s Advisory Board for UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

“John and his wife, Ruth Ann, committed time, energy and generous support to make this year’s UCI Medal ceremony more engaging than ever before,” said Gregory Leet, vice chancellor of University Advancement. “I applaud all members of the Medal leadership committee and the UC Irvine Foundation trustees for their vital support. This could not happen without them.”

The theme for Saturday’s event was “Be the Light,” inspired by the University of California motto, “Fiat Lux” (“Let There Be Light”). It was selected to reflect the Medalists’ achievements as well as UC Irvine’s ongoing contributions to the community, nation and world: innovative research, dedicated faculty and inspired students.

Held at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center, the gala featured a reception and formal dinner, Medalist tributes, and entertainment by students from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. All of this year’s dance compositions were created specifically for “A Celebration of Stars.” Past Medalists – who include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and industry leaders – were also highlighted.

Recipients of the 2012 UCI Medal are:

Sue and Bill Gross: The couple developed a keen interest in healthcare and stem cell advances at UC Irvine after seeing Hans Keirstead, UC Irvine professor of anatomy & neurobiology and one of the nation’s pioneers in human embryonic stem cell research, on “60 Minutes.” They toured Keirstead’s lab and later made a $10 million gift to UC Irvine supporting construction of Sue & Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute, which houses dozens of laboratory-based and clinical researchers, a stem cell techniques course, a master’s program in biotechnology with an emphasis on stem cell research, and programs and activities for patients and public education.

Elizabeth Loftus: Renowned for her groundbreaking work on the malleability of human memory. this UC Irvine Distinguished Professor, she holds faculty positions in the schools of Social Ecology, Social Sciences and Law. Since earning a doctorate in psychology at Stanford University, Loftus has published 22 books and 500 scientific articles. Her 30 years of research have focused on the malleability of memory. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and in a list of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, the journal Review of General Psychology placed Loftus at No. 58 – making her the top-ranked woman.

Drs. Betty Tu and David Tsoong: Supporters of UC Irvine for more than a decade, the married couple own Pinnacle Resources International Inc., a holding company focused on international real estate and senior living. Tu established a private obstetrics-gynecology practice in Anaheim and, until retiring in 2005, was a clinical professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. She earned an MBA in 1999 at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business and in 2007 was honored with its Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. Tsoong was a surgical intern at UC Irvine Medical Center and, after orthopedic surgical training in New York, returned to Orange County for private practice. He’s a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. A former member of UC Irvine Medical Center’s Executive Council, he was on the UC Irvine Foundation’s Board of Ambassadors and is currently a trustee on the foundation’s Nomination & Board Development Committee. Tu and Tsoong have served on The Paul Merage School of Business’ Center for Health Care Management & Policy Advisory Board, the Humanities Dean’s Advisory Council, UC Irvine Medical Center’s CEO Advisory Board and the UCI Medal Steering Committee. The couple made a major gift to help build UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and were honorary co-chairs of “Healing Under the Stars – The 2012 UCI Health Gala.”

Net charitable proceeds of more than $900,000 raised through this year’s Medal ceremony will benefit UC Irvine graduate fellowships, scholarships and other student-focused projects.