UCLA alumni Ronald and Valerie Sugar have given $5 million to the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science to establish an endowment to support the dean’s top priorities for the school.
In recognition of their generous gift, the school’s dean, Jayathi Murthy, will now be the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Engineering.
“As alumni, through their professional pursuits and as philanthropists, Ron and Valerie are exemplars of the transformative power of a UCLA education,” Chancellor Gene Block said. “Their generous gift provides Dean Murthy with significant resources to attract the best faculty and students to UCLA, and it will benefit UCLA Engineering for generations to come.”
The school is planning to expand by about 1,000 students and 50 faculty members during the next five to seven years to help meet the demand for engineers and computer scientists, and to admit more of California’s high-achieving students and open new areas for research and entrepreneurship.
“I’m very honored to be the first Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Engineering,” Murthy said. “On behalf of the school, I want to thank them for their generosity and vision. We have big plans to grow over the next few years and the resources that Ron and Valerie have made available will be invaluable in these efforts.”
Ronald Sugar graduated summa cum laude in engineering in 1968 from UCLA, where he also received his master’s and doctoral degrees in the same field. He was an executive in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries. Most prominently, he served as the chairman of the board and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation from 2003 until his retirement in 2010.
“It was exactly 50 years ago that UCLA Engineering admitted me and also provided a generous scholarship to financially enable my studies,” Sugar said. “My UCLA undergraduate, and later graduate education set the foundation for both a career and a fulfilling life, and for this I am forever grateful.
“Valerie and I are pleased that this new endowment will enable Dean Murthy and future deans to pursue their highest priorities in advancing the mission of UCLA Engineering,” he continued. “We look forward to seeing the school continue to build on its tradition of excellence with future generations of faculty and students.”
The gift is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.
During Sugar’s tenure, Northrop Grumman grew to become the nation’s second-largest defense contractor, with 120,000 employees and $35 billion in annual revenue. Prior to joining the company in 2001, Sugar held executive positions with the Aerospace Corporation, TRW Inc. and Litton Industries.
Sugar was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is a fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Royal Aeronautical Society. He was the 1996 UCLA Engineering Alumnus of the Year.
He currently serves on the board of directors of Apple, Chevron, Amgen and Air Lease Corp. and serves as an operating advisor to the investment firm Ares Management, LP. Sugar is also a member of the UCLA Engineering Dean’s Executive Board, a member of the UCLA Anderson School of Management Board of Visitors, a trustee of the University of Southern California, a director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, a director of the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools and a national trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Valerie Sugar graduated magna cum laude in history in 1971 from UCLA and earned a master’s degree in library science from USC in 1972. She held professional positions in library science and computer science at the RAND Corp. and Aerospace Corp. Subsequently, she has focused on family, artistic and philanthropic endeavors.
This is the couple’s second major gift to UCLA Engineering. In 2011, the Sugars gave $1 million to create an endowed faculty chair. The inaugural holder of the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Chair in Engineering is Jason Speyer, a distinguished professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.
By Matthew Chin
Image: Ronald and Valerie Sugar