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UCR Receives $2 Million Gift

UC Riverside Will Use $2 Million Gift To Tackle Issues of Suburban Sprawl

New Research Center to Be Named for UCR Alumnus Ed Blakely

(July 25, 2003)

Edward Blakely<br />
photo courtesy of New School UniversityEnlarge

Edward Blakely
photo courtesy of New School University

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Ali Sahabi, a real estate developer and philanthropist, has signed a gift agreement to provide the University of California, Riverside with $2,050,000 to create a Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

The center will be named in honor of Edward Blakely, Sahabi’s mentor, a UCR graduate (1960), and current dean of the Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School University in New York City.

The Edward Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development will bring together the university’s intellectual resources and the experience of developers, city officials and environmental and community groups to focus on the social, ecological and economic issues of suburban growth. These have become national issues.

"Over the next two to three decades, the Inland Empire will be an immense laboratory where communities will wrestle with growth controls, land use and density questions, freeway congestion, air pollution problems and the need to the create school districts in the middle of nowhere — all while trying to retain their character,” said Andy McCue, associate director designate of the proposed center.

Robert Nava, interim vice chancellor for University Advancement, said Sahabi’s gift also provides a unique opportunity to aid fast-growing Riverside and San Bernardino counties, communities that have always nurtured UCR. “With suburban growth proliferating across the United States and around the world, the issues to be studied in the Inland region will resonate internationally, fulfilling the University of California’s mission of being an international research university,” Nava said.

Sahabi, named a Champion of Justice by the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County earlier this year, is the developer of Dos Lagos, a mixed-use development in Corona praised by environmental groups for a combining good design with sensitivity to the natural environment. The project broke ground last month.

In February, UC Riverside held a planning conference for the center that brought together policy experts and government planners. Reid Ewing, Rutgers professor and lead author of a report on Suburban sprawl issued last fall which garnered national news coverage, debated John Husing, a local economist who’s been critical of that report and its methodology.

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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