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UC Irvine bags over $500 million in philanthropic and research money

UC Irvine bags over $500 million in philanthropic and research money
UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman, pictured in August, says the university’s recent increases in philanthropic and research funding show that “our government and campus partners, alumni and friends recognize — and want to contribute to — our research and academic prowess.” (File Photo)

UC Irvine collected more than a half-billion dollars in philanthropic and research money in the past year, thanks partly to substantial increases in giving by parents and charitable foundations.

During one of the strongest funding years in campus history, the UCI Office of Research received $362 million in grants and contracts, the university said.

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University Advancement — which gathers donations that qualify as gifts under Internal Revenue Service regulations — reported $160 million.

Parent donations rose by 50%, which UCI spokesman Tom Vasich said can be attributed to an increased focus on parent engagement.

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“In the last year, we were able to reach out to more parents than ever before and host events across the country and globally,” Vasich said.

UCI also launched a parent executive board that “encourages parents to support with their time, talent and treasure.”

Funding from charitable foundations rose 38% to $101 million, philanthropic support for student scholarships was up 33% and federal research grants and contracts rose 15%, the university said.

The increases place the university closer to fulfilling its strategic goals, which include a $500-million target for research grants and contract funding.

“Nearly three years ago, we charted an ambitious course to reach new heights of excellence and social impact,” UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said. “We are thrilled that our government and campus partners, alumni and friends recognize — and want to contribute to — our research and academic prowess. Their support expands our capacity to improve lives in our region and around the world.”

Among the most significant grants and gifts were a $10-million grant from the National Cancer Institute to support improved treatments for colon cancer, melanoma and leukemia; a $10-million award from the National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation that enables UCI researchers to study the fate of cells in bone, skin and muscle; and a $9-million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the effects of cannabis on adolescent brains.

Another donation is an art collection valued in the tens of millions of dollars owned by late Newport Beach developer Gerald Buck. The art will be displayed in an anticipated UCI art museum for which funds are being raised.

The funding successes also may aid UCI’s rankings among universities.

“If the donations are around research funding, those donations actually impact our global rankings, such as Times Higher Education, Shanghai, QS and the U.S. News Global rankings,” Vasich said. “So investments in our research enterprises … will help us improve in our standing of global university rankings, where we lag behind many of our sister UC institutions.”

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