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UC Irvine names 2011 Medal recipients

Edwards Lifesciences CEO, Chairman Michael Mussallem, organic chemist Larry Overman are among the four honorees.

By Kristen SchottPublished: May 23, 2011 09:43 AM

UC Irvine has selected Edwards Lifesciences' Michael Mussallem, former Associate Chancellor Barbara Davidson, former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Manuel Gómez and organic chemist Larry Overman to receive the 2011 Medal – the university's most prestigious award.

The program bestows lifelong recognition on those who have made strong contributions to the university's mission of teaching, research and public service; this year's honorees will be honored in October during the school's Celebration of Stars event – the campus' largest fundraiser.

“Our UCI Medalists deserve the highest praise for their contributions to the mission, spirit and vision of our campus and community, and this year’s outstanding honorees are no exception,” said Chancellor Michael Drake.

Mussallem, chairman and CEO of the Irvine-based heart-valve tech firm, has been instrumental in creating a public-private partnership with UCI. Among his efforts: A gift from his company established the Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, which aids in heart and vascular disease research. Additionally, Mussallem has served as chairman of the Chief Executive Roundtable; he was co-chairman of the UCI Medal with his wife, Linda; and he has been a member of the university's Foundation Board, the Engineering Leadership Council and the Health Affairs Strategic Advisory Board.

Davidson, a member of UCI's inaugural class in 1965, has been involved with the university for more than 40 years. During her time with the school, Davidson led a nationally recognized professional performing arts and lecture series, played a large part in fundraising for the Qureshey Research Laboratory and formerly served as chairwoman of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, District VII. She retired as associate chancellor in 2007.

Gómez, who retired as vice chancellor for student affairs in 2010, has worked with the campus for more than 38 years. His efforts include founding the UCI Center for Educational Partnerships; supporting the creation of the CAMP and COSMOS programs; co-founding the Silk Road to the Future, which allows students to travel to China; and forming the XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship. Prior to his role as vice chancellor for student affairs, Gómez served as a counselor and then director of the Educational Opportunity Program, then as assistant and associate vice chancellor of enrollment services.

Finally, Overman, a former Department of Chemistry chairman, joined UCI's faculty in 1971. Since that time, Overman, who is among the world's top organic chemists, has helped develop new treatments for cancer, cardiovascular conditions and immunity disorders. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has earned more than 25 other accolades. He holds the title of Distinguished Professor, the university's highest academic ranking, and his efforts have helped to build one of the nation's best graduate programs in the field, according to UCI.

“Our meteoric rise into the top ranks of American universities is due in large part to their foresight, commitment, energy and innovation,” said Drake.

A Celebration of Stars – The UCI Medal Awards, will be held at the Bren Center on Oct. 29. The event will include a reception and formal dinner, tributes and entertainment from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Proceeds will go toward graduate fellowships and other campus programs.

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