Jean-Claude Falmagne
“I am tremendously grateful to my UCI peers and colleagues for granting me this award,” says Jean-Claude Falmagne, professor emeritus of cognitive sciences and recipient of the 2015 Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius honor. “It is especially meaningful to me because UCI has been, for many reasons and for many years, my scientific home.” Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

The UC Irvine Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius award, will this year go to Jean-Claude Falmagne, professor emeritus of cognitive sciences, for his groundbreaking work in mathematical cognition and his innovative design of mathematical instruction software.

Also being honored at the 45th annual Lauds & Laurels gala May 14 are Neil Sahota ’97, ’00, MBA ’03, an IBM Global Business Services executive and UCI Extension instructor, who will receive the Outstanding University Service award; and Vicki Ruiz, UCI Distinguished Professor of history and chair of Chicano/Latino studies, who will receive the Outstanding Faculty Achievement award.

The event, which has a 1965 theme in honor of the university’s 50th anniversary, will take place in UCI’s Gateway Plaza, beginning with a 6 p.m. reception.

Known for having co-developed knowledge space theory, Falmagne joined UCI’s Department of Cognitive Sciences and Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences in 1989. The cognitive scientist-turned-mathematician worked with UCI’s Office of Technology Alliances in the late ’90s to obtain licensing to evolve his adaptive learning program, ALEKS, into a multimillion-dollar software company. ALEKS Corp. was acquired by McGraw-Hill in 2013, which resulted in a $3 million donation to UCI by Falmagne and his wife, Dina, to establish three new endowed chairs in cognitive sciences.

A UCI alumnus with three undergraduate degrees and an MBA, Sahota is an adviser to Fortune Global 500 companies on business strategy and a regular instructor of UCI Extension certificate programs. As a consultant and project executive at IBM Global Business Services, Sahota connects UCI students with IBM speakers and recruiters. He also has served on the UCI Alumni Association board.

Ruiz – a trailblazing historian who chronicles the lives of Latinas in the U.S. – joined the UCI faculty in 2001 and was dean of the School of Humanities from fall 2007 through summer 2012. She’s a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and president of the American Historical Association. Past honors include a presidential nomination to the National Council on the Humanities and Latina magazine’s Woman of the Year award in 2000.

Fifteen others will be saluted along with Falmagne, Sahota and Ruiz for exceptional contributions to the university, the community or their profession, among them alumni C. David Baker, executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; John Gerace, president and co-founder of Calabri Biosciences; and notable film actor Bob Gunton.

Net proceeds from table sponsorships and individual ticket sales will support the UCIAA student scholarship fund.

The complete list of 2015 Lauds & Laurels honorees:

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Sanaa Khan

Outstanding Graduate Student

Aurora Pribram-Jones

Outstanding Student-Athlete

Danielle Warde

Outstanding Staff Achievement

Jorg Meyer

Outstanding Faculty Achievement

Vicki Ruiz, Ph.D.

Outstanding University Service

Neil Sahota ’97, ’00, MBA ’03


Jean-Claude Falmagne

Distinguished Alumni

Bob Gunton                                 Claire Trevor School of the Arts

William Patterson, Ph.D. ’95      Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences

Tim Leyden, MBA ’92                The Paul Merage School of Business

Jeneen Graham, Ed.D. ’11         School of Education

Leila Rohani ’85, MBA ’93        The Henry Samueli School of Engineering

C. David Baker ’75 School of Humanities

Marsha Hopwood, Ph.D. ’74     Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences

Class of 2012                                School of Law

Bernard Lewinsky, M.D. ’69     School of Medicine

John Gerace ’87                          School of Physical Sciences

Roy Delgado ’84, J.D.                 School of Social Ecology

Amanda Fowler ’99  School of Social Sciences