After holding several influential positions during his 40 years at UCI – most recently as associate chancellor and chief of staff in the Office of the Chancellor – 2019 Extraordinarius Michael Arias retired in November. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 13, 2019 — The University of California, Irvine Alumni Association will bestow its highest honor, the Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius award, on Michael Arias ’11, an influential university advocate and recently retired administrator.

Arias’ imprint on the campus over his 40-year UCI career has been substantial. Beginning first in the support staff for the School of Physical Sciences in 1979, he went on to serve as director of the academic budget, assistant dean of the School of Social Sciences, associate executive vice chancellor and chief of staff in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and, finally, associate chancellor and chief of staff in the Office of the Chancellor.

“Few have contributed as much to UCI’s advancement as Mike did for so many years,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “In every position Mike held, he made UCI a better place. His contributions cannot be overstated and will benefit UCI for generations to come. This is truly a well-deserved honor.”

As one of the university’s principal advisers, Arias played a major role in many significant initiatives, including the development of UCI’s strategic plan, the establishment of the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, the creation of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, the gift of the Buck Collection of California art, the construction of two student housing complexes and the Anteater Learning Pavilion, and the planning for the Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Building.

Fourteen Distinguished Alumni will also be recognized at the 49th annual Lauds & Laurels awards gala in May:

  • Toni Alexander ’69 – Claire Trevor School of the Arts; president and creative director at InterCommunicationsInc
  • Devansu Tewari ’93, M.D. ’97, MBA ’14 – School of Biological Sciences; gynecologic oncologist at Kaiser Permanente Orange County
  • Reza Sabahi, MBA ’09 – The Paul Merage School of Business; managing director at Wells Fargo Capital Finance
  • Kimberly Brower – Division of Continuing Education; assistant director of food industry programs at the University of Southern California
  • Jessica Tunney, Ph.D. ’16 – School of Education; founding principal and executive director of Tomorrow’s Leadership Collaborative Public Charter School
  • Cynthia Guidry ’92 – The Henry Samueli School of Engineering; deputy executive director of planning and development at Los Angeles World Airports
  • Mona Baset ’93 – School of Humanities; assistant vice president of information and analytics services at Atrium Health
  • James Hobbs ’73 – Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences; retired senior enterprise architect at Intel Corp.
  • Brooke Weitzman, J.D. ’14 – School of Law; co-founder and attorney at Santa Ana’s Elder Law and Disability Rights Center
  • Bruce Burke, M.D. ’68 – School of Medicine; neurosurgeon
  • Omeid Heidari ’13 – Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing; doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University
  • Roger McWilliams ’75 – School of Physical Sciences; senior associate dean of research and innovation and professor of physics & astronomy
  • Shari McMahan ’84, Ph.D. ’92 – School of Social Ecology; provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, San Bernardino
  • Paula Tomei ’79 – School of Social Sciences; managing director at South Coast Repertory

Additional honorees are Distinguished Young Alumna Sitara Nayudu ’11; Outstanding Alumni Athlete Shannon Eusey ’92; Outstanding Faculty Achievement awardee Thomas Ahlering of the School of Medicine; Outstanding Staff Achievement winner Iain Grainger of the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning; Outstanding Undergraduate Student Shun “Gracie” Wong of the School of Physical Sciences; and Outstanding Graduate Students Kelton Mock and Alex Marlow of the School of Medicine.

A tradition since 1971, Lauds & Laurels not only recognizes exceptional Anteaters but also supports the university’s and the UCIAA’s role in inspiring the next generation of alumni – an “Anteaters for Anteaters” movement. Net proceeds from the awards ceremony benefit the UCI Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund.

The event will take place Thursday, May 23, at the Paséa Hotel in Huntington Beach, beginning with a 6 p.m. reception. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are available now. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Chris Ruoff, UCIAA business development director, at

About the UCI Alumni Association: Fifty years ago, in 1968, the UCI Alumni Association was founded to enrich the lives of alumni and engage them in lifelong advancement of UCI. It fosters the success of the university’s more than 188,000 alumni by connecting them to one another and providing a wide range of campus resources. With UCI’s ambition of being a globally preeminent university, the UCI Alumni Association strives to empower and support its alumni community through its chapters, career recruitment opportunities, social gatherings, membership program, and alumni engagement events. For more information about the UCI Alumni Association, visit

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, 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 35,000 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 $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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