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Foundation trustee donates $5 million to UC Irvine for inclusive STEM recruitment

Stacey Nicholas, a trustee of the UCI Foundation, donated $5 million to the university to support recruitment, retention and graduation of students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
(Steve Zylius / UC Irvine)

UC Irvine announced Monday that it has received a $5-million donation from one of its foundation members to benefit the university’s Office of Access & Inclusion, which supports recruitment, retention and graduation of students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math.

The donation was made by Stacey Nicholas, a trustee of the UCI Foundation and an electrical engineer who founded the Irvine-based Opus Foundation, which promotes STEM education outreach and the arts.

The inclusion office, which was founded in 2014 and serves the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, will be renamed the Stacey Nicholas Office of Access & Inclusion in the spring, said Lori Brandt, a university spokeswoman.

The engineering school’s deanship also is named after Nicholas, who donated $9.5 million to the school in 2014 for scholarships, graduate fellowships, outreach programs and deanship endowment.

Gregory Washington, the Stacey Nicholas dean of engineering, said in a statement that the new $5-million gift “will allow us to continue to build on our successful efforts in inclusive excellence.”

“In the next five years, we envision the [Office of Access & Inclusion] leading the nation in diversity and inclusion initiatives,” said Sharnnia Artis, the office’s assistant dean. “With this new gift from Stacey, we will be able to significantly amplify the impact of our efforts and expeditiously transform this vision into reality.”

Nicholas said in a statement issued by the university that she feels it is important to support underrepresented students “so they’ll have the same chance of success as their more fortunate peers.”

“Engineering can be a transformative path for these students, as well as for their families and communities,” she said. “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.”

The university said female enrollment in its engineering and information and computer science schools has increased by 39% and 50%, respectively, over the past five years. Meanwhile, overall enrollment of underrepresented undergraduates has grown by 29% in engineering and 50% in information and computer sciences, according to UCI.

In April, Nicholas gave $5 million in support of women in engineering at UCLA, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

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