Cal State L.A. receives $1-million gift to study urban environment

Cal State L.A. receives $1-million gift to support faculty environmental research

Cal State Los Angeles has received a $1-million gift to study environmental problems afflicting large urban areas, officials said this week.

The donation from the Sikand Foundation will establish the Gunjit S. Sikand Faculty Endowment for Research in Urban Sustainability.

Sikand was a businessman, philanthropist and Cal State L.A. civil engineering professor of more than two decades; he died last year at 86.

"The endowment will be used in perpetuity to provide funding for a faculty member, allowing them time to focus on research," said Mark Sikand, president of Sikand Engineering Associates, which was founded by his father in 1958.  

The native of India was a key contributor to the university having already established the Sikand Scholarship Fund, the Gunjit Sikand Civil Engineering Endowed Guest Lecture Fund and the Gunjit Sikand Civil Engineering Endowed Senior Design and Freshmen Design Fund, said President William A. Covino.

The familiy's latest gift will serve as a cornerstone for a proposed Institute for Urban Sustainability at Cal State L.A., said Emily Allen, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology.

Research will center on climate change, drought, urban sprawl, earthquake resiliency, transportation and other issues.

"The proposed institute will involve faculty and students from across the campus, including engineering, natural science and social science, and potentially others, in connecting with each other and the region through dialogue, research and community-based projects, all of which will extend Cal State L.A.’s impact on improving life in the Los Angeles region," Allen said.

Sikand emigrated from India when he was 20 years old to attend Auburn University and earned a master's degree in engineering from the University of Colorado.

He began teaching at Cal State L.A. in 1958 and helped to develop the engineering college, bringing practical experience from the private sector, said Young Kim, emeritus professor and chairman of civil engineering at the university.

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