Jacobs’ Generosity Enhances
Engineering Education Excellence at UCSD
I was honored to assume the duties of Dean
of the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering in February. The Jacobs School
is one of the most exciting and dynamic engineering schools in the nation,
and it is a real thrill to be part of it.
Just two weeks on the job, I had the pleasure of announcing a gift of
$110 million from Irwin and Joan Jacobs to the School. This is a planned
gift that supplements the previous endowment that the couple made to the
School in 1997, and the current funds which the Jacobs have provided year
after year to the School. Irwin and Joan’s generosity has enabled
the Jacobs School to enter the ranks of the top engineering schools in
the nation, and will allow us to sustain a level of excellence that our
students require and deserve.
Let me give you three examples of the impact their support has already
had on the strength of our School and the lives of our students.
First, the Jacobs’ support has placed us on a more even playing
field with private universities, allowing us to compete for the best faculty
in the world. As the School has been
growing rapidly for the past decade, we’ve been able to recruit
faculty successfully in clusters
of excellence. For example, systems biology and bioinformatics represent
one of the most promising fields in science and engineering, and stand
to revolutionize medical care and drug discovery. Funding from the Jacobs
and from the Whitaker Foundation was pivotal in helping us recruit not
just one leader in this field, but a cluster of six faculty from Illinois,
Michigan, USC, Boston, Stanford and MIT. In just a few years, UCSD has
assembled what is one of the strongest bioinformatics and systems biology
groups in the nation.
Similarly, in the area of control systems, we recruited six faculty in
as many years to create a center of excellence in this area, and this
group is spearheading innovations in aerospace engineering in direct support
of defense and homeland security.
The second area where the Jacobs’ impact is invaluable is the recruitment
of students. In 2000, they established the Jacobs School Scholars and
Fellows program. Each year we provide four-year scholarships to 10 new
freshmen and one-year fellowships to 16 new graduate students. The candidates
for these scholarships are some of the best students in the nation. Among
the Fall 2003 undergraduate scholar candidates, their average SAT score
is 1550, and their average high school GPA is 4.6. These students have
their pick of engineering schools across the country—but the scholarship
program enables us to recruit them to the Jacobs School and to San Diego.
Jessica Yuen, a junior electrical engineering major, is a typical Jacobs
School Scholar. She has interned with two local corporations; is conducting
graduate-level research on optical networks; is an accomplished violinist
in the La Jolla Symphony; and devotes countless hours to K-12 outreach.
Most recently, she started a peer-to-peer mentoring program for her fellow
students. Clearly, the impact of her scholarship is almost beyond measure.
The third way this most generous gift will help the Jacobs School is
in terms of reputation. UCSD is the only research university in the nation
that has announced a singular gift of this magnitude for an engineering
school. This news builds on the unique reputation we enjoy as engineering
education innovators. The Jacobs School is already ranked among the top
15 engineering schools in the nation, and our stature will only continue
Due to the Jacobs’ support and the incredible efforts of our faculty,
students and alumni, we have arrived as a world-class engineering school
that leads the nation in education, research and innovation. I look forward
to continuing our great work together.