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UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman leads a spirited crowd in a hearty Zot, Zot, Zot! at the UCI Medal Awards event Saturday, Oct. 10. He chose the occasion to announce that campus supporters had helped UCI surpass its $1 billion goal for the Shaping the Future fundraising campaign. Photo: Aurelio Jose Barrera

UCI closes Orange County’s largest philanthropic campaign, surpassing $1 billion goal

Strong community, donor involvement lead to funding for scholarships, academic chairs, high-impact research and projects that make a difference

Irvine, Calif. – Research, education and clinical practice that saves lives, restores sight, repairs the world. These achievements, and many others, are made possible through the most significant fundraising effort to date in Orange County – UCI’s successful $1 billion Shaping the Future campaign.

University leaders revealed Saturday that UCI is the first nonprofit organization in Orange County to attempt and raise $1 billion in private support through its 10-year fundraising campaign. The announcement was made at the campus’s annual UCI Medal Awards ceremony, which this year honored more than 100 past medalists, recognized for their contributions to UCI.

“When the campus launched the Shaping the Future campaign a decade ago, it was united by a singular focus: to make tomorrow better than today for this generation and for generations to come,” said Douglas K. Freeman, UCI Foundation member who chaired the Shaping the Future fundraising effort from the beginning. “Since then, more than 113,000 donors have helped us shape the future by investing in five high-impact areas: energy and the environment, global leadership, health, learning and the mind, and support for students.”

UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said the progress made in these areas over the past 10 years has touched the entire campus and benefited countless people beyond its borders.

“To change lives for the better – both regionally and globally – is our mission at UCI,” Gillman said. “We can only accomplish that in truly meaningful ways through support from community partners who share that mission.”

Gifts exceeded the goal in July – with a final tally of $1,013,853,274 – and­ have funded more than 500 scholarships and graduate fellowships, endowed over 50 academic chairs and tripled the UCI endowment. Among the impact coming out of the Shaping the Future campaign:

  • Dr. Henry Klassen’s  to repair the retina is now in a clinical trial, offering new hope to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. For many people, patience is a virtue. For Klassen, it’s been a necessity. He has focused for nearly 25 years on restoring sight to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa by creating treatments to regenerate damaged retinal tissue. This year, a first-of-its-kind, stem cell-based therapy for RP created by Klassen and his colleagues received all necessary approvals and moved into the important clinical trial phase. His work – and that of dozens of researchers at UCI – is bringing the promise of stem cell research from the lab to patients. Much of Klassen’s work is being conducted at the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, which is located in Sue & Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute. Both facilities are named in honor of the Laguna Beach couple, who donated $10 million in July 2006. Read more.
  • Dr. Jean Gehricke and UCI students help children with autism spectrum disorder overcome verbal communication deficits and behavioral issues. At the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Gehricke, an associate professor of pediatrics at UCI, and his students use Lego therapy to get kids talking. By taking turns giving each other instructions on building with the colorful locking blocks, the children practice communication in a structured play environment that provides opportunities for positive reinforcement. “We had a little girl who had difficulty expressing herself. She would respond to questions but never volunteered information,” Gehricke said. “After introducing her to Lego therapy, we saw a sudden change. She was able to communicate for the first time. It was incredible to see how she became much more verbal. She had a spring in her step that was never there before.” In 2013, William and Nancy Thompson spearheaded funding of the Center for Autism with a $14 million donation. It transformed a diagnostic clinic into a nationally recognized evaluation, treatment, education and research facility. Read more.
  • A UCI graduate student in engineering gets to build his dream home and have a positive impact on the world. The first time the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon was held at the Orange County Great Park, in 2013, volunteer Alex McDonald impressed organizers with his relentless energy and can-do spirit. Two years later, he’s managing the Team Orange County entry in the 2015 competition, which challenges college students worldwide to design, build and briefly live in a house that produces and stores more electricity than it needs. Construction costs and fellowships for the Team Orange County leadership were funded by UCI’s Shaping the Future campaign. Local partners included prominent homebuilders and architects along with UCI alumni and retired carpenters. All homes in the Solar Decathlon competition will be on display until Oct. 18 at the Orange County Great Park. Winners will be announced Saturday, Oct. 17. Read more.

“We’ve accomplished some amazing things, and we’re just getting started,” Gillman said. “It’s these kinds of valuable partnerships and generous university supporters and friends that will enable us to rise to even greater heights in the future.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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