UCI School of Information and Computer Science named in honor of Donald Bren

06/02/04

The Irvine company chairman to be recognized at June 9 groundbreaking ceremony for school's state-of-the-art research facility

Irvine, Calif., June 2, 2004 -- UC Irvine's nationally ranked School of Information and Computer Science will celebrate a new name, the promise of a new home, the generosity of its major benefactor and the appointment of its first dean at a June 9 campus ceremony for ICS supporters, including civic, business and political leaders.

The first school of its kind in the University of California system will be renamed the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, honoring Orange County business leader and philanthropist Donald Bren, chairman of The Irvine Company. Bren made a $20 million gift to ICS last December that equaled the largest gift ever to UCI.

"This school naming is a fitting and enduring tribute to Mr. Bren. His transformational gift is helping to create a national model for information and computer science research and education, and further strengthens UC Irvine's position among the nation's best research universities," said Chancellor Ralph J. Cicerone, who will participate in the ceremony along with Bren, UC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs M.R.C. Greenwood, and ICS Dean Debra J. Richardson.

At the luncheon ceremony, ground will be broken for the school's new, six-story, 138,000-square-foot research and classroom facility. The building is being financed largely by the passage in March of Proposition 55 and its companion initiative in November 2002, Proposition 47, which authorized funds to build, repair and improve the state's public education facilities. It is scheduled for completion in 2006 and will be named Bren Hall.

Bren's $20 million gift, administered through the Donald Bren Foundation, provides more than $18 million to create 10 endowed chairs for distinguished faculty an unprecedented number in a single gift to UCI and enables ICS to compete for the world's top computer scientists. The balance of the gift creates an endowed fund for excellence, enabling ICS to develop and advance interdisciplinary and university-industry collaborations emphasizing new research and enhanced technology transfer efforts.

"I am honored to have my name and support associated with the first computer science school in the UC system," said Bren. "It is my hope and expectation that this school and what it produces in the way of human capital and technological innovation will be the force behind future breakthroughs in education, science and business that will lift our standard of living and our quality of life."

Bren's gift was made anonymously last December to enable ICS to begin recruiting while it organized as a new school, put in place its first dean, planned for its new main building and gained momentum for an effort to raise funds to equip the facility. The school expects to name the first of the distinguished endowed chair holders, each of whom will carry the title of Donald Bren Professor, in the near future.

"Mr. Bren's foresight and generosity have enabled us to invest in our intellectual capital, continue to drive innovation and accelerate our advancement among the top computer science programs," said Richardson, who was named the Ted and Janice Smith Dean of ICS in March. "We are delighted to celebrate the culmination of these achievements by permanently honoring the man who helped begin a new era for our school and is supporting our continued growth and excellence."

Bren has donated approximately $40 million to UCI since 1984, and has endowed more permanent faculty chairs than anyone in the campus's history. In 1988, he established the Donald Bren Endowment to help UCI successfully compete for the nation's most distinguished faculty and achieve its goal of becoming one of the country's premier research universities. The endowment already supports 13 endowed chairs in the arts and sciences, including those held by such internationally recognized researchers as Nobel Prize-winning chemist F. Sherwood Rowland, National Medal of Science recipient Francisco Ayala and world-renowned choreographer Donald McKayle. The endowed faculty positions in ICS also will be supported by the Donald Bren Endowment.

In 2001, Bren's support led to naming of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts after his late stepmother, the Academy Award-winning actress and helped renovate the Claire Trevor Theatre. His numerous additional contributions helped build the Bren Events Center and Beckman Laser Institute at UCI, and provided support to the Graduate School of Management and The UCI Foundation.

"The field of information and computer science continues to grow exponentially in applications and sophistication across industry and government globally. Donald Bren's extraordinary gift will enable ICS to elevate and expand dramatically its faculty capabilities to keep pace with the field," said UCI Foundation Chair Ted Smith.

About the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences: The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences is the first independent computer science school within the UC system and one of the fastest-growing programs of its kind in the nation. Elevated from department to school status in December 2002, information and computer sciences enrollment at UCI has grown by more than 125 percent since 1998, to more than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students. With experts in areas ranging from embedded computer systems and networking to bioinformatics and the social impacts of computing, the school currently ranks 15th among all public university computer science graduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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