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AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
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‘A Celebration of Stars’ honors UCI Medalists

The UCI Medal Award is the university’s highest accolade

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: October 31, 2011 10:50 AM

Four noted individuals in the business and educational community were presented with UC Irvine’s highest honor on Saturday at the 2011 UCI Medal Awards and annual gala fundraiser. The event, ‘A Celebration of Stars,’ featured a vintage-Hollywood theme, a reception and formal dinner, big-band music and dancing, and entertainment by students from UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

The annual gala, held at the UCI Bren Events Center, drew more than 500 guests and raised $1.1 million dollars, the proceeds of which will be used to benefit graduate fellowships, scholarships and other projects through the Shaping the Future campaign.

Hosted by the UC Irvine Foundation, this year’s co-chairs of the event were John and Ruth Ann Evans. John Evans is a foundation trust and an executive committee member, and sits on the Dean’s Advisory Board for UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business. He is also a senior vice president and manager at Wells Fargo Bank.

“John and his wife, Ruth Ann, were steadfastly committed to the success of this event, inspiring our hardworking volunteer committee to surpass expectations in every way,” said Gregory Leet, vice chancellor for university advancement. “Not only did they raise vital funds to support graduate and undergraduate students, but they delivered an evening befitting the achievements of those it honored.”

The UC Irvine Medal Awards honor recipients for their service to the university and their dedication to the academic arts. The 2011 UCI Medalists are Edwards Lifesciences CEO Michael Mussallem, former Associate Chancellor Barbara Davidson, former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Manuel Gómez and organic chemist Larry Overman.

“One of our most significant traditions is awarding the UCI Medal to highlight the accomplishments of those outstanding individuals whose time, talent and support help UC Irvine make a difference in people’s daily lives,” Chancellor Michael Drake said. “Our 2011 recipients join an elite cadre, and although the specific nature of their contributions may vary from year to year, the consistent truth is that each of them has elevated our campus and community in a meaningful way.”

A former co-chair of the UCI Medal Awards himself, Mike Mussallem is active at many levels at UCI. He is a trustee of the UC Irvine Foundation; he has chaired the Chief Executive Roundtable; and he has served on the Engineering Leadership Council and Health Affairs Strategic Advisory Board. The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology was made possible due to a major gift from the Edwards Lifesciences Fund, and Mussallem is also a supporter of UCI men’s volleyball.

Barbara Davidson has had a storied career at UCI, beginning more than forty years ago, as a member of UCI’s inaugural class of 1965. Davidson has held a number of staff positions at the university, and directed a nationally recognized professional performing arts and lecture series. She also played major roles in fundraising for the Phineas Banning Alumni House and the Qureshey Research Laboratory and received a CASE Lifetime Achievement Award.

Not only as an educator, but also as an advocate, Manuel Gómez has left an indelible mark on Southern California through his work in helping create and support programs benefiting thousands of Californians, many from underserved backgrounds. Gómez was behind the development of the CAMP, COSMOS and SAGE programs, as well as co-founded the Silk Road to the Future program, giving UC students the opportunity for an educational and cultural experience in China. Beyond his work for the university, he has consulted for the U.S. Dept. of Education, advised the state Postsecondary Education Commission and testified before a number of legislative committees on matters relating to education.

Recognized as one of the world’s leading preeminent organic chemists, Larry Overman’s 40-year tenure at UCI has been marked by research that has helped create new treatments for cancer and other medical disorders. The Distinguished Professor and former Dept. of Chemistry Chair has mentored hundreds of undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, 45 of whom hold faculty positions at colleges and universities at home and abroad. Overman’s research on the synthesis of natural products of biological relevance is heavily cited, and his work has appeared in more than 340 peer-reviewed publications. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and received more than 25 other distinguished national and international accolades.


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