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I know how rewarding it is to have an impact on students' lives.
 

The UCLA math department is poised for greatness. And thanks to a recent forward-thinking gift from Sierra Chen, M.A.'93, its upward arc has gained even more momentum.

Chen, a successful entrepreneur and former teacher, established the Sierra Chen Endowed Chair in Mathematics the first full faculty chair specifically for mathematics. "I taught at junior college for six years, so I know how rewarding it is to have an impact on students' lives," she says. "I hope this will help the department to hire the best professors, open more opportunities and expand the level of academics, which is already excellent."

Dr. Joseph Rudnick, interim dean of the physical sciences in the College of Letters and Science, agrees. "It will allow us to continue competing at the senior level for the world's best mathematicians," he says, "and will add significantly to the department's already high national prominence."

That prominence has been the result of several factors, he maintains, including the creation of the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM). Launched to foster collaborations and interdisciplinary connections, IPAM has "appreciably raised the profile of UCLA in the community through its programs and workshops."

Then, in August 2006, Professor Terence Tao was awarded the prestigious Fields Medal, often described as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics." And earlier this year, the department received a coveted award for an exemplary program or achievement from the American Mathematical Society.

With the promise of a world-class mathematician to fill the Chen chair, Rudnick believes the department is "well on its way to becoming one of the elite math departments in the country."

 
Professor Terence Tao
Dr. Joseph Rudnick, interim dean of the physical sciences
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Sierra Chen's gift is a real boost for us.