The University of California, Irvine has announced a $5 million gift from trustee Stacey Nicholas in support of efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate students from communities and groups underrepresented in STEM fields.
The gift will endow the UCI Office of Access & Inclusion (OAI), which serves the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences and since its inception in 2014 has instituted a number of initiatives aimed at building a pipeline of high-quality students from diverse backgrounds. Over the last five years, enrollment of women in the engineering and ICS schools has increased 39 percent and 50 percent, respectively, while enrollment of underrepresented undergraduates has increased 29 percent and 50 percent. The schools also have instituted faculty recruitment programs, developed a strategic plan, and created an infrastructure in support of greater diversity and inclusion. In recognition of the gift, the OAI will be renamed the Stacey Nicholas Office of Access & Inclusion.
An electrical engineer with bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, Nicholas is founder of the Opus Foundation, which promotes STEM education outreach and the arts, and serves on various dean's advisory and executive boards for UCI's engineering and ICS schools. In 2014 she gave $9.5 million to fund the engineering school’s Academic Innovation & Research in Engineering program, which conducts K-12 and community college outreach, and endow its deanship as well as scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented students.
"It's so important to support underrepresented students so they'll have the same chance of success as their more fortunate peers," said Nicholas. "Engineering can be a transformative path for these students, as well as for their families and communities. They will bring new perspectives to the world's most critical problems and truly represent our diverse nation. They will serve as role models for others and empower future generations. Now more than ever, our country and the world need these brilliant and talented engineers to better the lives of all of us going forward."
(Photo credit: Steve Zylius/UCI)