News Release | CSULA, Cal State L.A., Los Angeles, Wallis Annenberg, Integrated Sciences Complex

 $5 million Annenberg gift supports new science home for legacy of excellence, access at Cal State L.A.

Los Angeles, CA – A $5 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation will allow California State University, Los Angeles to complete a new home for the University’s programs in chemistry, biology and other disciplines. Ultimately comprising two wings, the facility will soon open as the Wallis Annenberg Integrated Sciences Complex.

University President James M. Rosser said, “The Annenberg Foundation’s insight and generosity enable us to create new opportunities for our students to continue to excel in biotechnology, biochemistry, life sciences, and environmental sciences. While this new facility will serve as a signature complex, aesthetically showcasing Cal State L.A.’s exemplary science programs, it will also enhance teaching and research by fostering more collaboration among faculty from varied academic departments.”

In approving the naming of the complex for Wallis Annenberg, the CSU Board of Trustees cited her philanthropic support for education, research and environmental stewardship.

The grant, the largest cash gift in Cal State L.A. history, developed from a long and close relationship between Wallis Annenberg and Barry Munitz, the former CSU Chancellor and now Trustee Professor at CSULA.  According to Munitz, “This is a perfect match between our campus and one of the world’s most distinguished foundations—recognizing both educational quality and superb opportunity.  We are all honored by her generous and committed philanthropy.”

Wallis Annenberg is the vice president of the Annenberg Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States.  Based in Los Angeles, she is a visionary philanthropist who strives to improve the well-being of people and communities throughout the world.  Under her leadership, the Los Angeles office of the Foundation has given more than a quarter-billion dollars to over 500 organizations.

The Cal State L.A. complex’s first wing, a $42 million project begun in 2004, will open soon. The second wing, budgeted at $64 million, is in the design phase. Combined, the complex will encompass 120,000 square feet of classrooms and laboratory spaces with a sophisticated mechanical, electrical, computer, data, and telecommunications infrastructure.

According to Carlos Gutiérrez, a Cal State L.A. chemistry professor honored nationally for his mentoring, “The conduct of modern science demands greater integration across the disciplines. And when studies in seemingly diverse fields come together—as in biotechnology—our students gain a more robust understanding of scientific phenomena. They also see how interdisciplinary collaboration yields more broadly relevant research results.”

With fields as dissimilar as criminal forensics and environmental restoration both relying upon chemistry and biochemistry, students themselves are increasingly seeking cross-disciplinary approaches, he said.

As one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse universities, Cal State L.A. has gained national recognition over the past four decades for preparing students—particularly those from underserved communities—to earn doctoral degrees in the sciences and in health professions.

“In chemistry, biochemistry, biology and other science disciplines, Cal State L.A. has some of the most talented and dedicated students in the country; and many of them come from underserved communities around Los Angeles,” said Gutiérrez. “In many respects, the Annenberg grant acknowledges the past hard work and academic excellence of our students; and, for a long time to come, it will help future students fulfill their potential.”

Cal State L.A.’s science programs have also been recognized for outstanding K-12 outreach efforts, undergraduate research opportunities, educational support programs and faculty mentoring.

For example, since 1973 student participants in the biomedical portion of the University’s Minority Opportunities in Research programs have authored or co-authored more than 500 journal articles. Through the University’s Center for Environmental Analysis-Centers of Research Excellence in Science & Technology—or CEA-CREST—students prepare for a variety of cross-disciplinary careers in oceanography, air quality and other fields.

Each year Cal State L.A. awards roughly 300 bachelor’s degrees and 100 master’s degrees in biology, health sciences, physics and mathematics.

Currently, the National Science Foundation funds 26 Cal State L.A. projects that have received collectively more than $15 million. The NSF projects support undergraduate research experiences in biochemistry and environmental assessment, the study of the signals behind embryonic development, the enhancement of electron microscopes and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging labs, and other efforts in science education, research and work force development.

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The Annenberg Foundation

Established in 1989 by Walter H. Annenberg, the Annenberg Foundation provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally through its headquarters in Radnor, Pennsylvania and offices in Los Angeles, California. Its major program areas are education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; and animal services and the environment. In addition, the Foundation operates a number of initiatives which expand and complement these program areas. The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving this goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.

California State University, Los Angeles

Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 205,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include a NASA-funded center for space research and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.