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Esther Hays Establishes Fund for UCR Engineering Grad Students

Esther Hays Establishes Fund for UCR Engineering Grad Students

(March 1, 1999)

Esther Hays, professor emeritus in the UCLA School of Medicine and former member of the board of directors of the Press-Enterprise, has established an endowed fund to support graduate engineering students at the University of California, Riverside.

The Esther F. Hays Fund, established with a $100,000 gift from Hays, will fund graduate fellowships in engineering at the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) at UCR. Fellowships enable the campus to attract high-caliber graduate students by providing financial support toward their educational expenses. Interest earned on endowed fellowships is used to fund the awards, thus providing perpetual support.

Investment income from the Esther F. Hays Fund will specifically support students pursuing advanced engineering degrees and conducting research in development of new technologies to reduce air pollution and in evaluation of the impact of proposed environmental regulations. CE-CERT's wide-ranging research agenda encompasses developing autonomous vehicles, converting biomass such as yard waste into methanol, modeling how pollutants behave chemically in the atmosphere, evaluating with computer models the impact of roadway improvements on air quality, and improving alternative-fueled vehicles.

"Meeting the environment and energy needs of society will require highly trained professionals in all engineering disciplines and the educational opportunities at CE-CERT will prepare the next generation of engineers to develop those technologies," said Joe Norbeck, CE-CERT director and the Yeager Families Professor of Environmental Engineering at UCR. "Fellowships provided by this fund will enable us to attract the most highly qualified students and we're grateful to Dr. Hays for her visionary support of our educational mission."

The UCR campus recently established a new graduate program in chemical and environmental engineering in the rapidly growing Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering. About a dozen graduate students are expected to enroll in that program by next fall. The engineering college currently enrolls 780 undergraduates and 50 graduate students, and is expected to grow to about 1,800 undergraduates and more than 300 graduate students by 2005-06.

Hays said her concern for the health of Southern California residents, especially children, and CE-CERT's emphasis on training future engineers to solve environmental problems inspired her gift. "It seems to me we need desperately to do something to improve our air quality," she said. "If we can change the way automobiles spew out pollutants, we can take a big step in improving air quality."

Hays, professor emeritus and associate dean emeritus in the UCLA School of Medicine, conducted research in hematology and oncology, particularly leukemia, during her UCLA tenure. As associate dean from 1984 until her retirement in 1993, she also served as UCLA's liaison to the UCR/UCLA Program in Biomedical Sciences, an innovative medical education program that leads to an M.D. degree in seven years rather than the traditional eight. In addition to teaching and research, she also cared for patients.

She was a founder of the UCLA AIDS Institute, established in 1992 to coordinate all of the AIDS research, clinical and educational activities at the campus and its affiliated teaching hospitals. When she retired, the institute established a fellowship in her name to support graduate students doing research in AIDS/HIV.

She served on the board of directors of the Press-Enterprise from 1993 to 1997 and has been a member of the UC Riverside Foundation board of trustees since 1995. She earned her M.D. at Cornell University in 1951.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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