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UC Irvine receives record $200 million gift for health sciences

UC Irvine received a record $200 million donation Monday that symbolizes a philanthropic boom that has been reshaping California universities in recent years, especially in the study and treatment of human disease.

Newport Beach billionaire Henry Samueli and his wife Susan gave UCI the money to name and develop a College of Health Sciences that will focus on integrative health.

Irvine officials say the $200 million represents the seventh-largest gift ever made to a single public university.

The donation comes just a few months after a foundation representing the late philanthropist Helen Diller gave UC San Francisco $500 million for the study of cancer.

Three months before that, Taner Halicioglu, who helped create Facebook, gave UC San Diego $75 million to help the school expand in data science. The school is half-way through a $2 billion capital campaign.

In 2016, Philip H. Knight, a co-founder of Nike, donated $400 million to Stanford University to underwrite graduate students who are working on such issues as climate change and poverty. Businessman Charlie Munger gave UC Santa Barbara $200 million to build dorms.

And tech entrepreneur Larry Ellison gave the University of Southern California $200 million to create an institute for transformative medicine. USC is in the midst of a $6 billion fund-raising campaign, one of the largest programs of its kind in U.S. history.

“It looks like all of the people have a connection to California and want to give back,” said Alan Gin, an economist at the University of San Diego.

“Three of the four Samueli (UCLA), Diller (UC Berkeley), and Halicioglu (UCSD)] graduated from the UC system, so it is not surprising that they donated to UCs.

“Ellison did not, which is probably why he gave to USC. They all did well in California — Samueli, Halicioglu, and Ellison in tech and Diller in real estate. So they are successful, have money, and wanted to pay it forward by helping the state’s educational institutions.

“I expect more of that will happen in the future, given the huge wealth that has accumulated in California, primarily from tech and real estate. That is important because it will keep the schools competitive and maybe allow future students to go out and make fortunes of their own.”

The $200 million gift to UC Irvine comes at a time when the school is struggling to deal with a crush of enrollment that has resulted, in part, from its high national ranking.

The campus is tied with UC San Diego for 9th on US News and World Report’s latest rankings of the country’s best public colleges and universities.

In announcing the gift, Susan Samueli said in a statement, “Despite our technological advances, too many people still suffer from chronic conditions such as pain, diabetes and heart disease or are caught in a cycle of taking too many medications.

“We must change what we mean by ‘healthcare’ and how we train all who provide care, including physicians, nurses and pharmacists. Today’s health science students ask about integrative health from day one; harnessing that interest is key to turning our national system in a better direction.”

Irvine officials say the new college will eventually be composed of an institute for integrative medicine, the School of Medicine, the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, the School of Pharmacy (now a department) and School of Population Health (now a program.)

Integrative medicine addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.

Henry Samueli, co-founder of semiconductor giant Broadcom, and his wife, are long-time benefactors of UCI. They have given the school more than $255 million,cq including $30 millioncq last year to help build a huge science complex.

The new $200 million gift is the second largest donation made this year to an American university.

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