A $1 million gift from the estate of Christian Werner, professor emeritus of geography and former dean of the School of Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, will support graduate student research and scholarship in social sciences. Werner passed away in March 2016 at the age of 81, following a lifelong career in academia at UCI. He and his partner, Kathy Alberti, a longtime UCI staff member in the school’s graduate office, were ardent supporters of graduate education and student success. The donation will establish an endowment for fellowships to be awarded by the social sciences dean beginning this fall.

“Christian’s gift comes at an incredibly significant time at UC Irvine when we are growing graduate enrollment and transforming graduate education to serve the needs of society,” said Bill Maurer, social sciences dean and professor of anthropology and law. “His generosity will also carry forward the tireless efforts of Kathy, who for many years sat with pen, paper and spreadsheets, finding the best ways to ensure our grad students could continue their studies without having to worry about funding.”

Werner became a permanent member of the social sciences faculty in 1968 and was appointed associate dean of the school in 1973. The following year, he was named acting dean, and in 1975 he officially became the school’s fourth dean. During his four-year tenure, Werner led the creation of affinity groups within the school where faculty could come together to develop curricula and share research. He’s also credited with recruiting a number of renowned scholars to UCI social sciences. When his term ended, Werner served on various Academic Personnel and Academic Senate committees. As a researcher, he specialized in applying mathematical approaches to geographic and social sciences work – particularly transportation. Werner taught courses on these methods, as well as on statistical analysis in geography, transportation theory and analysis, and physical geography. In 1990, he received the UCI Alumni Association Distinguished University Service Award for his volunteerism and commitment to the School of Social Sciences. While he officially retired in 1994, Werner remained an active member of the economics faculty and campus administration through committee work until 2007.

“Christian valued his time at UCI and his relationships with his university colleagues. He felt a deep sense of gratitude to the campus and this country for the opportunities he was fortunate to have,” Alberti said. “He would be very proud knowing that his donation to student scholarship and research in the School of Social Sciences will help others pursue academic aspirations at a university that gave him so much.” 

With his gift, the School of Social Sciences will bolster student support in its 12 master’s and doctoral programs, all of which are ranked in the nation’s top 25 among public universities and within the top 50 overall. Notably, the Ph.D. program in logic & philosophy of science is tied for first place globally in its philosophy of mathematics specialization and second place in its philosophy of physics and philosophy of science specializations. U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 rankings place the school’s graduate program in sociology 12th among public universities and 23rd overall; psychology (administered by both the Department of Cognitive Sciences in the School of Social Sciences and the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior in the School of Social Ecology) 19th among public universities and 36th overall; political science 24th among public universities and 45th overall; and economics 24th among public universities and 47th overall. Anthropology, a program U.S. News & World Report doesn’t review, ranks on a sliding scale between eighth and 29th in the nation, according to the Center for a Public Anthropology and the National Research Council. Alumni from social sciences graduate programs have received prestigious posts as professors at private and public universities including Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins and the University of Wisconsin-Madison; as researchers at national agencies and think tanks such as the U.S Department of the Treasury, U.S. Census Bureau, and Mind Research Network; and as industry experts with Google, Amazon and GfK Roper Consulting, to name a few.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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