Irvine, Calif., April 22, 2013 – One couple and two individuals have been selected to receive UC Irvine’s most prestigious honor, the UCI Medal, which confers lifelong recognition on those who have made exceptional contributions of time, service and support to the university.

The annual UCI Medal was first awarded in 1984 to UC Irvine founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. It was the beginning of a tradition – started by then-Chancellor Jack W. Peltason. Honorees have included Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, authors, inventors, captains of industry, scientists and pioneers in virtually every field of endeavor. Their efforts have enabled UC Irvine to make a far-reaching and positive impact through leading-edge humanitarian research, scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs and the education of the next generation of leaders.

“UC Irvine is built on four pillars of excellence: academic excellence, research excellence, leadership excellence and character excellence,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “Our 2013 Medal honorees exemplify these virtues. Their leadership and contributions are truly inspiring, and our UCI Medalists help the university shape a bright future for our community, nation and world.”

Recipients of the 2013 UCI Medal are:

Charles D. Martin

Charles D. Martin is chairman and CEO of Mont Pelerin Capital, an equities hedge fund. During the 1980s and ’90s, he had a distinguished career as the founder and manager of two investment firms: Enterprise Partners, which became one of the top venture capital firms in America; and Westar Capital, a highly successful private equity firm.

For the last decade, he’s been senior adviser/partner to buyout firm ClearLight Partners. In addition, for 25 years Martin co-owned TEC International, now known as Vistage, a management development program with more than 12,000 CEO members worldwide. Over the past 35 years, he has served on the boards of 46 public and private companies.

Martin has been a trustee of the UC Irvine Foundation for more than a decade and is on its investment committee. He’s been on the investment committees of many prominent universities, including 10 years on the University of California Regents’ investment advisory committee, which oversees the endowment and pension plans for all UC campuses.

At UC Irvine, Martin helped institute and is chairman emeritus of The Paul Merage School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. He launched the school’s pioneering Polaris Investment Competition and has awarded 100 scholarships to MBA students through the program, now in its 10th year. He also led the creation and organization of the UC Irvine Chancellor’s Advisory Council.

Martin and his wife, Twyla, are longtime philanthropists who support charitable organizations throughout Orange County. A trustee of Chapman University for 25 years, he was instrumental in founding the Orange County Museum of Art, where he’s chairman emeritus of the board of trustees.

Having worked two jobs to put himself through college, Martin graduated from Ohio State University with five majors (mathematics, physics, chemistry, electrical engineering and business). In 2007, he was awarded Ohio State’s Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal for engineering alumni. He’s the author of four books and numerous published articles on investment strategy, global economics and public policy issues.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

UC Irvine Distinguished Professor of comparative literature and English Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an internationally acclaimed novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic and social activist from Kenya. He launched his literary career at Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, in the 1960s with the critically acclaimed Weep Not, Child. Weep Not, Child is largely credited with opening the eyes of the western world to post-colonial Africa. Ngũgĩ  taught literature at the University of Nairobi from 1967 to 1977, when he was arrested by state authorities because of his powerful anti-corruption novel, Petals of Blood. Imprisoned for a year without trial at the nation’s maximum security prison, Ngũgĩ wrote his first novel in the Gĩkũyũ language, Devil on the Cross, on toilet paper.

Forced into exile in 1982, Ngũgĩ has since held faculty positions at several U.S. institutions of higher education, including Yale University and New York University. He was recruited to UC Irvine in 2002 to teach literature and direct the then-new International Center for Writing & Translation.

Ngũgĩ has written some of his best work during his time at UC Irvine, including the highly praised Wizard of the Crow, winner of a 2006 California Book Awards gold medal for fiction. After 20 years of exile, he returned to Kenya in 2004 with his wife to promote the novel. Two weeks later, armed gunmen broke into their hotel and brutally assaulted them, an attack believed to be politically motivated.

In 2010, Ngũgĩ published Dreams in a Time of War, a memoir of his childhood in Kenya; and in 2012, he released In the House of the Interpreter, shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Ngũgĩ has received eight honorary doctorates and is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He has lectured at such distinguished universities as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Auckland. His wife, Njeeri, is director of conflict resolution in UC Irvine’s human resources department.

Cheryll and Richard Ruszat

As UC Irvine Foundation trustees, Chancellor’s Club co-presidents and former co-chairs of the UCI Medal Awards, Cheryll and Richard Ruszat have left an indelible mark on the university.

Richard Ruszat has been an integral part of the ongoing success of UC Irvine’s $1 billion Shaping the Future campaign, which has raised more than $800 million with two years to completion. Cheryll Ruszat has served as chair of the foundation’s donor relations committee, and she also launched a program that actively involves trustees in personally thanking donors. The couple has also provided significant financial support to the campus for decades.

The Ruszats joined the Chancellor’s Club in 1984 and are lifetime members who served as co-presidents from 1999 to 2002 and again from 2008 to 2010; they have also been co-chairs and co-vice chairs of its Daniel G. Aldrich, Jr. Society. During their tenure, the club increased its number of events and its membership – including the addition of lifetime members.

The Ruszats co-own four Montessori schools, one of which is the University Montessori school on the UC Irvine campus, where Richard serves as president and Cheryll as executive director. Cheryll Ruszat is also the program coordinator and instructor for University Montessori as well as for the University Montessori Teacher Education Program through UC Irvine Extension.

All four of their schools are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Cheryll Ruszat last year obtained accreditation for the University Montessori Teacher Education Program from the American Montessori Society and the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. The couple have educated thousands of students since opening their first Montessori school in 1976.

The Ruszats have been members of UC Irvine’s Social Ecology Associates and are founding members of the Premier Partners of the UCI Libraries. Cheryll Ruszat is on the School of Education Leadership Council and is also on the Discovery Science Center board. Richard Ruszat serves on the campaign committee for the Discovery Science Center and also chairs the Salvation Army Orange County Adult Rehabilitation Center advisory board.

For nearly three decades of devotion to UC Irvine, the Ruszats in 2011 received the Lauds & Laurels award for outstanding university service.

UCI Medal recipients will be honored at the 2013 UCI Medal Awards event on Saturday, Oct. 5. Hosted by the UC Irvine Foundation, this year’s gala will be co-chaired by Emile Haddad, president and CEO of FivePoint Communities, a real estate development company, and his wife, Dina. Haddad is a UC Irvine Foundation trustee on the executive committee who is a founding donor of The Paul Merage School of Business Center for Real Estate and has served on the Social Ecology Leadership Council and the Smart Energy and Sustainable Environment Leadership Council.

To be held from 5-10 p.m. at the Bren Events Center, the 2013 UCI Medal Awards will feature a reception and formal dinner, medalist tributes and entertainment by the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Past medalists also will be highlighted. Event proceeds will support UC Irvine students and vital campus programs and areas.

For information on tickets or sponsorships, call 949-824-9801.

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 more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UCI news, visit

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.