Imagine an LED light with 20 times the efficiency of an incandescent bulb. Or a computer that can generate, transmit, and store data 100 times faster than those we use today. How much healthier would our planet be if we could turn waste heat into electricity, or improve the performance of low-cost solar cells, making them more efficient, and more accessible?
The (IEE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara –– a world-ranked collaborative research campus that boasts five Nobel laureates among its faculty –– is developing those solutions, and many more. Institute researchers are harnessing nanomaterials to create high-capacity storage batteries and high-efficiency fuel cells, and constructing "energy harvesters" that will see waste heat repurposed as electricity. They are designing hybrid silicon and optical technologies for use in communications devices that will work faster and run cooler.
A new philanthropic gift from Jeff Henley, chairman of the board of Oracle and a UC Santa Barbara alumnus, and his wife, Judy, an honorary alum since 2009, will advance these and other innovations immeasurably. The Henleys have committed $50 million to UCSB for the IEE and its highly regarded College of Engineering. Their investment helps propel the campus toward the $1-billion goal of its Campaign for UC Santa Barbara, a multiyear fund-raising effort. Jeff Henley, a 1966 UCSB grad with distinction, is the campaign's co-chair.
"The philanthropic leadership of Jeff and Judy Henley is deeply inspiring; we are thrilled by their vision and generosity, and excited about the momentum their gift provides as we launch the next phase of our billion-dollar Campaign for UC Santa Barbara," said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "Jeff and Judy have contributed to our university in countless ways over the years, including the Henley Chair in Economics and the beautiful Henley Gate that stands as the iconic entrance to our campus. We are tremendously honored that this transformative $50 million gift for our Institute for Energy Efficiency and our College of Engineering –– the largest gift in the history of our campus –– will become part of the Henleys' living legacy at UC Santa Barbara."
Of the Henleys' total pledge, $30 million will go toward Henley Hall –– the future base of operations for IEE to be named in honor of this generous gift –– and be invested in faculty recruitment for both the institute and the College of Engineering. The additional $20 million, in the form of an estate commitment, will support priorities of the College of Engineering.
"This gift allows us to play an important role in supporting the priorities of the University and the College of Engineering, by significantly advancing the sciences and the Institute for Energy Efficiency," Jeff Henley said. "We hope to create new opportunities for research and discovery, and to support UC Santa Barbara's already strong commitment to preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers."
In the face of ongoing state budget cuts, donations are critical to recruiting and retaining leading researchers, and providing them cutting-edge lab space. Henley Hall will see the world's brightest minds in materials, computing, optoelectronics, control systems, photovoltaics, and solid state lighting collaborate to innovate and advance the discoveries that will one day reduce, even reverse, the global growth in energy consumption.
"We generate most of our energy by burning fossil fuels, and at the rate we are going we will consume in a couple of centuries what took hundreds of millions of years to generate. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to change this trajectory and become far more efficient in our use of energy," said John Bowers, director of the IEE and the Fred Kavli Chair in Nanotechnology at UCSB. "We waste more energy than we consume, but with scientific and technological breakthroughs we can change that –– permanently. The Henleys' gift is key to enabling our existing faculty and new faculty hired in this important area to focus and collaborate on these important global problems."
Created in 2008, the Institute for Energy Efficiency today includes 50 faculty and 120 graduate and postdoctoral students collaborating on energy-efficient technologies. It has quickly come to be considered among the elite university-based centers for such research. With the Henleys' donation, UCSB hopes to inspire additional philanthropy to complete the funding required for Henley Hall, plus support faculty recruitment and IEE operations.
"The Institute for Energy Efficiency is an excellent example of UCSB's interdisciplinary culture. Scientists here from many different disciplines collaborate to address large societal problems," said Pierre Wiltzius, the Susan and Bruce Worster Dean of Science. "This wonderful gift will help build a physical home for them to meet and translate their research into workable solutions."
The stature of UC Santa Barbara has grown significantly in recent years. For example, in 2011, Leiden University in the Netherlands published the results of a four-year study in which UC Santa Barbara was ranked seventh among the Top 500 world universities, and first among public universities, for research productivity and impact in the sciences and social sciences. In the recent National Research Council assessment of 31 doctoral programs at UCSB, nearly a third of the programs ranked in the range of the top five, and more than two-thirds in the range of the top 20, across all disciplines on campus. All five engineering doctoral programs ranked in the range of the top 10, with the materials program, the bedrock of IEE, ranking first in all ranges.
"As a college and a university, we must ensure that we are advancing the broad state of knowledge that's going to help us long-term, while also making sure that we are capitalizing on the near-term benefits of what we produce –– which includes our students as well as intellectual property and technology," said Rod Alferness, Dean of Engineering at UCSB. "The Henleys' vital support –– especially critical given state-funding restrictions –– gives us the ability to do both of those things by creating extraordinary research opportunities for our faculty and students alike."
Longtime benefactors of the campus, the Henleys' myriad investments in UC Santa Barbara include the Jeff Henley Endowed Chair in Economics, currently held by Nobel Laureate Finn Kydland. They have also furnished significant support for the College of Engineering and many other areas across campus, including intercollegiate athletics. Judy Henley provided the conceptual design for the Henley Gate. Jeff Henley chairs the IEE's Directors Council and Global Advisory Board, and is a member of the College of Engineering Dean's Cabinet.
Jeff Henley is Chairman of the Board of Oracle, which engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center, based in Redwood Shores, Calif. He was Oracle's chief financial officer from 1991 to 2004.