UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Frieder Seible
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 to rise.

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.

Frieder Seible