$1 million gift endows chair in name of former dean Vijay Dhir

Apr 29, 2016

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

A group of nearly 100 donors has come together to give $1 million to create the Vijay K. Dhir Chair in Engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, in honor of the school’s former dean.

The endowed chair will be held by a professor from any engineering discipline who is an accomplished researcher, teacher and mentor to students.

The donors include alumni, faculty and friends of the school who worked closely with Dhir during his nearly 14 years as dean. The gift brings total donations to UCLA Engineering during the Centennial Campaign for UCLA to more than $125 million. The campaign, which launched in 2014, is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

Dhir, who continues to serve as a distinguished professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, joined the UCLA Engineering faculty in 1974. He was named interim dean in 2002 and dean in 2003, and he stepped down from the dean’s role in December 2015.

Under Dhir’s leadership the school made major strides in research and education, as well as in national and international rankings.

Among the school’s many achievements during that period:
• Launched the Master of Science in Engineering Online program, which is now the top-ranked such program in the country.
• Added two new buildings: Engineering V, which houses the school’s bioengineering and materials science departments; and Engineering VI, which will be completed in 2017 and will house a 250-seat learning center and the computer science department.
• Founded the Institute for Technology Advancement to help launch companies and accelerate the translation of research developed by students and faculty into practical applications.
• Enhanced the engineering curriculum to instill cross-disciplinary education while continuing to emphasize engineering fundamentals.

Today UCLA Engineering has the highest number of full-time faculty and students in its history, and is ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the top 10 engineering programs at public universities.

“I am honored and humbled by this gift to the school,” Dhir said. “From the first day to the last, it was my privilege to serve as dean. I’d like to thank faculty, friends and alumni for making this generous gesture to support UCLA Engineering’s continued excellence.”

Jayathi Murthy, who succeeded Dhir as dean, said, “Endowed chairs help the school attract and retain top faculty, and with our plan to add 50 new faculty in the coming years, this gift will make a significant difference. It is also a great tribute to Vijay Dhir, who has dedicated his professional life to making UCLA Engineering the world-class institution it is today.”

In addition to his work as dean, Dhir has conducted pioneering research in boiling and heat transfer, advised more than 40 doctoral students and published more than 300 papers. In 2006 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor for engineers in the U.S.

The Dhir Chair brings the number of endowed chairs at UCLA Engineering to 28.

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