UCI News

UCI’s Brilliant Future fundraising campaign surpasses $1 billion in gifts

Despite pandemic challenges, alumni and friends donate for scholarships, research

April 6, 2021
UCI’s Brilliant Future fundraising campaign surpasses $1 billion in gifts
The Brilliant Future campaign went public in October 2019 with a gala highlighted by an inspirational speech from Jimmy and Sheila Peterson, who serve as campaign chairs. Christopher Todd / for UCI

Irvine, Calif., April 6, 2021 – Alumni and friends of the University of California, Irvine have raised more than $1 billion to support scholarships, groundbreaking research, top-notch patient care and world-class educational facilities, among other initiatives.

The $1 billion total pushes UCI across the halfway mark in its $2 billion philanthropic effort, Brilliant Future: The Campaign for UCI, which has also engaged 44,000 alumni so far – more than half the goal of 75,000 by 2024.

The Brilliant Future campaign publicly launched in October 2019. It is the most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement effort in UCI’s history. To date, more than 68,000 supporters have given to the university as part of the campaign.

Those gifts to UCI and UCI Health have contributed to the construction of new buildings and the creation of more than 140 new scholarships, fellowships and student awards, as well as the establishment of 38 endowed chairs that support pioneering research. Donations of all sizes have bolstered the university’s COVID-19 response by enabling UCI Health to purchase essential equipment and lifesaving supplies.

“During one of the most challenging health crises in recent times, it’s inspiring to see that the generosity of our UCI alumni and friends has not only endured but intensified,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “We are incredibly grateful for all of our alumni and friends as we work to fulfill our mission of research, teaching and public service.”

In 2020, donors accelerated their giving, both for UCI’s COVID-19 efforts and for longstanding goals. The amount raised for student support alone increased by more than 40 percent between 2019 and 2020. Additionally, the university received 15 more gifts greater than $1 million in 2020 than in 2019. The outlook for 2021 is optimistic.

  1. alt placeholder Construction continues on the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, which is supported through a $200 million gift from the Samuelis. It is one of the largest donations ever to an American university. Steve Zylius / UCI
  2. alt placeholder A $39 million gift from the Samueli Foundation was the foundation for the new Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Building, which opened this year. Steve Zylius / UCI
  3. alt placeholder A $40 million gift from the William and Sue Gross Family Foundation established the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. Steve Zylius / UCI
  4. alt placeholder Valued at $17 million, the Irvine Museum collection was donated to UCI. The museum was founded in 1992 by Joan Irvine Smith, Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke and James Irvine Swinden (pictured). Steve Zylius / UCI
  5. alt placeholder The Buck Collection gift in 2017 gives UCI one of the world’s greatest collections of California art. Steve Zylius / UCI
  6. alt placeholder A $10.4 million gift from alumnus Vincent Steckler ’80 and his wife, Amanda, will support art history students and create a new center at the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences promoting inclusiveness. Courtesy of Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Science
  7. alt placeholder A $6 million grant from the Hellman Fellows Program will empower junior faculty members to conduct diverse and important research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM fields. Among UCI faculty to have benefited from Hellman Fellowships are (from left) Glenda Flores, associate professor of Chicano/Latino studies; Davin L. Phoenix, associate professor of political science; and Stephen Mahler, assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior. Steve Zylius / UCI; School of Biological Sciences
  8. alt placeholder “It’s so important to support underrepresented students so they’ll have the same chance of success as their more fortunate peers,” says UCI Foundation trustee Stacey Nicholas, whose $5 million gift to the Henry Samueli College of Engineering and the Donald Bren College of Information & Computer Sciences will aid recruitment, retention, graduation of underrepresented STEM students. Steve Zylius / UCI
  9. alt placeholder More than $4 million was raised during the second annual online, social media-driven UCI Giving Day in 2018, almost tripling the prior year’s $1.4 million. Steve Zylius / UCI
  10. alt placeholder A multimillion-dollar gift from The Beall Family Foundation, led by Donald R. and Joan F. Beall will help support to campus’s entrepreneurial and innovation platform, which has been renamed UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Steve Zylius / UCI
  11. alt placeholder A $2.5 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation assisted with COVID-19 research and front-line healthcare workers. Carlos Puma / UCI Health.

“Reaching this incredible milestone is a testament to the community’s strong confidence in UCI’s mission and capacity to make real change here in Orange County and around the world,” said Sheila Peterson, who serves as a UCI Foundation trustee and Brilliant Future campaign chair, as does her husband, Jimmy Peterson.

“What we’re all doing together is taking an already successful institution to the next level to impact more lives through top-notch healthcare, crucially important research and scholarship opportunities for deserving students,” he said.

The donations support the four overarching objectives of the Brilliant Future campaign: advancing the American dream for students, transforming healthcare and wellness, accelerating world-changing research, and exploring the human experience. Major gifts that helped bring UCI to the $1 billion mark include:

  • $200 million from the Susan and Henry Samueli to create the first-of-its-kind College of Health Sciences
  • $40 million from the William and Sue Gross Family Foundation to establish the School of Nursing
  • $39 million from the Samueli Foundation for the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building
  • Art now valued at approximately $20 million from The Irvine Museum
  • Art valued at tens of millions of dollars from The Buck Collection
  • $10.4 million from alumnus Vincent Steckler ’80 and his wife, Amanda, that will support art history students and create a new center at the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences promoting inclusiveness
  • $6 million from the Hellman Fellows Program to establish permanent endowments and the Society of Hellman Fellows, which will perpetually empower junior faculty members to conduct diverse and important research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM fields
  • $5 million from UCI Foundation trustee Stacey Nicholas that endowed and renamed the UCI Office of Access & Inclusion, which serves both The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences and supports the recruitment, retention and graduation of students from historically excluded populations who are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math
  • More than $4 million raised during the second annual online, social media-driven UCI Giving Day in 2018, almost tripling the prior year’s $1.4 million
  • A multimillion-dollar gift from The Beall Family Foundation, led by Donald R. and Joan F. Beall – the largest portion of which will go to the campus’s entrepreneurial and innovation platform, which has been renamed UCI Beall Applied Innovation
  • $2.5 million from the John and Mary Tu Foundation for COVID-19 research and front-line healthcare workers
  • Two donations totaling $2.5 million from philanthropist Roy Eddleman to the School of Physical Sciences for a graduate fellowship and a research institute focused on quantum science

Every gift contributes to the Brilliant Future campaign’s ongoing success – and many generate additional dollars from other sources. For instance, a recent $150,000 donation from philanthropist Keith Swayne led to $20 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to support Alzheimer’s research.

The achievement of this campaign milestone comes on the heels of the UC Board of Regents’ approval to build a world-class medical center on the northern edge of the UCI campus. The new UCI Medical Center in Irvine will be a full-service academic health complex that will bring leading-edge care to the coastal and southern regions of Orange County. The project has already received philanthropic funding and will continue to seek further investment from community partners during the remainder of the Brilliant Future campaign.

“We publicly launched this campaign just a few months before the pandemic,” said Brian Hervey, vice chancellor for university advancement and alumni relations and president of the UCI Foundation. “Yet, despite the challenges, alumni and friends have showed their astonishing support – support that will allow us to build top-notch research and teaching spaces and state-of-the-art health facilities, support our students and benefit our community.”

About the UCI’s Brilliant Future Campaign: Publicly launched on October 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. Learn more by visiting brilliantfuture.uci.edu.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. 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 36,000 students and offers 222 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 $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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