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Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

Leader Board – Bold & Brilliant: OC and UC Irvine’s Future

Editor’s Note: Brian T. Hervey is vice chancellor for University Advancement and Alumni relations at the University of California, Irvine, and is president of the UCI Foundation. Prior to joining UCI in 2015, Hervey led multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns at Scott & White Healthcare Foundation for the Baylor Scott & White Health Central Division, which included 14 hospitals and over 65 clinics in central Texas.

In 2019, University of California, Irvine publicly launched Brilliant Future: The Campaign for UCI, the largest philanthropic effort for the university and in the history of Orange County.
Despite the devastating pandemic that would eventually sweep the world, UC Irvine remained committed to bold goals: raise $2 billion in philanthropic support, engage 75,000 alumni, and build a robust team of community partners by 2025.

I can proudly say that we are well on our way. UC Irvine has raised over $1.5 billion, engaged more than 64,000 alumni, and received support from a full 100,000 community members so far. Remarkably, nearly 80% are first-time UC Irvine donors.

This success is thanks in no small part to OC business leaders Jimmy and Sheila Peterson, our Brilliant Future co-chairs.

Bright Minds

The Petersons have said that supporting higher education in Orange County is imperative because that’s where “the bright minds” are. Indeed, UC Irvine has been the home to Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners and recipients of many laudable achievements.

Yet, what I’d like to stress is that these achievements are not exactly ours. UC Irvine’s brightest minds are your community resource. UC Irvine is your world-class public institution.

Take UCI Health for example. As the region’s only academic health system, annually we see over a million outpatients, treat half of all traumas in OC and nearly 60,000 patients in the ER.

The list of what only UCI Health offers is long: the only combined Level 1 adult/Level 2 pediatric trauma center, only OC-based National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, only high-risk maternal/fetal program, only American Burn Association-verified burn center—and so much more.

Every day, UCI Health delivers critical, advanced treatments and care that other excellent regional hospitals in Orange County cannot offer due to our unique access to unparalleled, research-backed, cutting-edge treatment and the network of University of California hospitals.

Our dedication to health and wellness is unwavering, serving all 3.2 million OC residents with a steadfast commitment to accessibility, regardless of one’s ability to pay.

What allows UCI Health to be in the top 10% of all academic health systems in the nation for lowest mortality? What allows UC Irvine to be ranked among the top 10 public universities in the nation?

I’d argue it’s because UC Irvine has committed itself to becoming an integral force for public good in OC. Since our founding in 1965, we have worked diligently to be considered right alongside other UC giants: world-renowned universities across disciplines with some of the brightest students around and globally eminent professors, doctors and researchers working on the most challenging issues of our time.

I know we’ve come this far only because we’ve stayed true to our OC sensibilities; we are flexible, entrepreneurial, and collaborative. But, of course, our progress has really only been possible because of the generous support of our philanthropic investors.


In fact, UC Irvine is increasingly reliant upon the generosity of individuals, corporations, foundations and other friends. Philanthropy has allowed us to enhance academic programs, develop innovative courses, and create cutting-edge research opportunities.

Philanthropy has allowed us to set our sights on a world-class museum. Furthermore, philanthropy has allowed us to attract great students, despite their background or circumstances. Half of our students receive some form of financial aid.

Last year, nearly half of all graduates earning bachelor’s degrees were first-generation college students. This large percentage of traditionally underserved students is one reason why UC Irvine has twice earned the No. 1 spot in a New York Times ranking of universities “doing the most for the American dream.”

We are proudly a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution.

Major donors to Brilliant Future include: Donald and Joan Beall, the Buck family, Paul and Jo Butterworth, the Chao family, Sue Gross and Bill Gross, the Irvine family, Jack and Shanaz Langson, Susan and Henry Samueli, Vincent and Amanda Steckler, and the Joe C. Wen family.

In addition, generous support has come from partners like Allergan, Edwards Lifesciences, Falling Leaves Foundation, Irvine Health Foundation, Horiba and Pacific Life—to name a few.

It’s not only major donors who support our commitment to public good. On our most recent Giving Day, a record-breaking 3,638 individuals chipped in $2.16 million.

What all these folks know is that what’s good for UC Irvine is good for OC. The university has an annual economic impact on Orange County of $7 billion and contributes heavily to the region’s health, culture and talent-rich workforce.

Notable Gifts

Susan and Henry Samueli’s $200 million gift created The Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences to advance research, education and clinical practice for individual and population wellness.

Two collections of art—one from the Irvine Museum Collection, facilitated by James Irvine Swinden, and the other the Buck Collection, from the trust of Gerald E. Buck—followed by a naming gift from Jack and Shanaz Langson, jump-started plans for a new, world-class destination museum.

Spanning nearly 800,000 square feet of clinical space, a three-building state-of-the-art medical complex on the north side of UC Irvine—at the corner of Jamboree Road and Campus Drive—is the focus of current expansion. Supported by a $20 million gift from Joe C. Wen and family, the UCI Health Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care will open in 2024.

The UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building, supported by a gift from the Chao family, will open also in 2024.

Lastly, with 144 beds, the nation’s first all-electricity powered hospital will open in 2025.

We’ve recently broken ground on Falling Leaves Foundation Medical Innovation Building in the health sciences district on campus. The building, which will open in 2025, was made possible by a $30 million lead gift from Robert and Adeline Mah’s Falling Leaves Foundation.

The state-of-the-art medical research facility will house elite teams of interdisciplinary researchers on the brink of major breakthroughs in some of health care’s most intractable problems.

As the final phases of Brilliant Future near, please consider contributing. A gift to UC Irvine means a brilliant future for all of Orange County.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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