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Samuelis Donate $50M For UCI Engineering

Broadcom Inc. chairman Henry Samueli and his wife, Susan, are donating an additional $50 million to the University of California, Irvine.

Their latest gift is for engineering-focused research aimed at improving health, the environment and society as a whole, and will lead to the creation of three new multidisciplinary research institutes at the existing Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

“Engineers are hard-wired as problem solvers,” Henry Samueli said in announcing the gift on June 5.

“We hope our new gift will allow them to focus their problem-solving skills on some of our world’s largest, most intractable issues.”

The gift boosts the Samueli family’s reported giving at UCI past the $300 million mark. Their involvement at the university has spanned nearly 25 years and includes a variety of educational areas.

In 2017, they pledged $200 million—still the largest gift in UCI’s history—to create the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences.

“The enduring generosity of Henry and Susan Samueli has enabled University of California, Irvine researchers to seek answers to the most challenging questions and make breakthroughs that impact all our lives,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.


The new multidisciplinary research institutes at the engineering school will be grouped together under the theme “Engineering+”

They include the Engineering and Health Institute, Engineering and Society Institute and Engineering and Environment Institute (see story, this page).

UCI’s engineering school currently has a faculty base of 162, an undergraduate population of over 3,500, and graduate student body of more than 1,050, according to the university.

In announcing the $50 million gift, Samueli cited the “invaluable role that public universities play in innovation.”

A portion of the gift will be used to create the Office of Inreach, dedicated to the well-being, academic success, sense of belonging and career opportunities for undergraduate engineering students at UCI.

“It is a little awe-inspiring and humbling that we have people like this who put such trust in us,” Magnus Egerstedt, the Stacey Nicholas Dean of Engineering, told the Business Journal on May 31.

Egerstedt said the new initiative makes strategic sense.

“If you look at this part of the world—Orange County—the medical device and technology industry is very strong here,” Egerstedt said. “One can draw a direct line between what we do in our labs and the local industrial ecosystem that surrounds us.”

$37B Sale

Samueli, along with Henry Nicholas, founded Broadcom in 1991 and built the chipmaker into Orange County’s largest technology firm.

The Irvine-based company was acquired by Singapore’s Avago Technologies in 2016 for $37 billion. The acquiring company (Nasdaq: AVGO), now headquartered in San Jose, kept the Broadcom name and is currently worth nearly $340 billion.

Samueli remained at the company after the sale and now serves as chairman. He counts a 2.1% stake in Broadcom worth some $7 billion, according to regulatory filings. The company’s shares are up about 40% over the past year.

The Samueli family’s philanthropic and business interests range across Orange County and Southern California.

He and his wife also own the Anaheim Ducks professional ice hockey time, and are looking to revitalize the area around the team’s stadium in a vast, mixed-use project dubbed ocV!BE.

Henry Samueli said last year that the goal is “to create a magnet, so people stay here,” rather than leave OC for other metro areas.

The family’s educational giving also extends to UCLA’s School of Engineering; where Samueli was both a student and professor.

The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering said in 2019 it received its largest gift ever: $100 million from the Samuelis.

Boosting Profile, Rankings

Magnus Egerstedt, Stacey Nicholas Dean of Engineering for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, joined the University of California, Irvine engineering faculty almost two years ago.

He said he’s on a mission to improve the engineering school’s already strong academic ranking.

He says the UCI engineering school is currently 19th in the nation for public universities and 34th nationwide according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

“I see no reason why we shouldn’t be top 20 in the nation within the next few years,” Egerstedt said shortly before the announcement of a $50 million gift from Susan and Henry Samueli.

“This gift will help make that happen,” Egerstedt told the Business Journal on May 31.

—Kevin Costelloe

Health, Society, Environment

The three new University of California, Irvine institutes being created by the latest Samueli family gift will function as follows:

• The Engineering and Health Institute will house research into information technologies that bring medical care to underserved communities, synthetic biology to enable customizable disease treatments, and the combination of data science and biomedical device development.

Efforts in these areas have gotten a head start, according to Engineering School Dean Magnus Egerstedt, through UCI’s tradition of bringing together engineers, biologists, medical researchers and others in focused, interdisciplinary research efforts.

• Researchers in the Engineering and Society Institute will investigate how automation can enhance the human experience. Intelligent transportation, AI, robotic co-workers and nonhuman caregivers will become the norm in the future, Egerstedt said.

“I feel strongly that technology can serve as a beautiful force for good, but it’s up to us to make sure that our inventions don’t become invasive species.”

• At the Engineering and Environment Institute, there will be research into remote sensing of climate impacts, such as wildfires and beach erosion; data science for water modeling and management; and large-scale sustainable energy solutions are a few of the areas to be pursued in the institute.

“Climate research is a historical strength of UCI; our researchers have won Nobel Prizes for answering climate-related ­questions,” Egerstedt said. He added that UCI has leading experts in coastal engineering, hydrology and clean energy, for example.

“Engineering has its fingerprints all over those questions,” Egerstedt said.

“I am expecting this to bear fruit early on because we will be able to attract talent.”

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