The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has announced the establishment of the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Chair in Engineering, made possible by a $1 million gift from UCLA alumni Ronald D. and Valerie Sugar.

The endowed chair will support an engineering professor who is not only an accomplished researcher but also an excellent teacher and student mentor.

“We are grateful to Ron and Valerie for their generous support. Ron is a distinguished alumnus and has been a friend of the school for many years,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. “This new chair will help us continue a tradition of excellence in research and education by being able to recruit some of the best talent to our faculty.”

Ronald Sugar, Ph.D., is chairman emeritus of Northrop Grumman Corp., having served as the company’s chairman of the board and CEO from 2003 until his retirement in 2010. During his tenure, Northrop Grumman grew into the nation’s second largest defense contractor, with 120,000 employees and $35 billion in annual revenue.

Prior to joining Northrop Grumman in 2001, Sugar held executive positions in the aerospace,  defense and automotive industries, including chief financial officer of TRW Inc.; executive vice president of TRW Automotive Electronics; president and chief operating officer of TRW Aerospace; and president, COO and director of Litton Industries. In 2001, Sugar became president, COO and director of Northrop, assuming the role of chairman and CEO in 2003.

He is currently a director of Apple Inc., Chevron Corp., Amgen Inc. and Air Lease Corp. and serves as senior adviser to the private investment firm Ares Management LLC. Sugar is also a trustee of the University of Southern California, a member of the UCLA Anderson School of Management board of visitors, 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.

“I am thankful to the university for once providing me the opportunity and financial support to earn engineering degrees, which later proved indispensable in my career,” Sugar said. “I look forward to supporting the teaching and research activities of distinguished faculty at UCLA Engineering for many generations to come.”

Sugar, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Royal Aeronautical Society, 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 subsequently honored as a UCLA Engineering Alumnus of the Year.

Valerie Sugar, Ronald’s wife, 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.

The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Chair in Engineering is part of UCLA Engineering’s Enhancing Engineering Excellence (E3) initiative, a $100 million fundraising effort aimed at generating new endowed faculty chairs, graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships, as well as funds for capital projects and diversity initiatives.

Endowed chairs and professorships continue to play an increasingly crucial role in the recruitment and retention of outstanding university faculty. Reserved for the most distinguished scholars and teachers, endowed chairs provide vital funds for the support of the chair holder’s research, teaching and service activities. Donors continue to provide thoughtful and generous support for endowed chairs with the knowledge that their gifts supply a solid foundation for the enrichment of university programs and the recognition of academic excellence.

Main Image: Ron and Valerie Sugar.