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UCLA Campus Report: Three Bruins on TIME's Most Infuential List, More

Bruins Make Time's Influential List, 2014 Commencement Speakers, More


An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:

This week’s news focuses UCLA alumni on Time Magazine’s list of most influential people, a new gift to the UCLA botanical gardens, research on kids and eating vegetables and a list of UCLA’s 2014 commencement speakers.

UCLA Headlines

Three UCLA alumni among Time magazine’s ‘100 most influential people’

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Uber founder Travis Kalanick and online fashionista Natalie Massenet make the magazine’s 2014 list

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Uber founder Travis Kalanick and online fashionista Natalie Massenet — UCLA alumni all — joined Beyoncé, Hillary Clinton and Pope Francis in Time magazine’s 2014 list of "The 100 most influential people in the world."

Sen. Gillibrand of New York, dubbed "the U.S. Senate's rising Democratic star" by Time, graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 1991. After working for a decade as an attorney in New York City, she served as a special counsel in the Clinton Administration. In 2007, she was elected to represent New York in the U.S. House of Representatives and in 2009 was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Hillary Clinton when Clinton became U.S. secretary of state. In 2012, Gillibrand was elected to a six-year term in the Senate.

Among her many accomplishments, Gillibrand helped lead the fight to repeal the "Don’t Ask, Don't Tell" policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military, and she led the passage of the STOCK Act to make insider trading by members of Congress illegal. The Washington Post hailed the effort as the "most substantial debate on congressional ethics in nearly five years." Her recent efforts include providing support for veterans with mental health issues, and she is a staunch advocate of working-class families, pushing for quality child care, property tax relief and affordable higher education.

Uber founder and CEO Kalanick started honing his entrepreneurial skills while he was a computer science student in UCLA’s engineering school. In 1998, he teamed up with a couple of classmates and founded Scour and, in 2001, Red Swoosh, both music-and-data-sharing companies. Scour went belly-up, but Red Swoosh was acquired for $19 million by a technology giant in 2009. That same year, Kalanick came up with Uber, which connects passengers with rides-for-hire using a mobile application.

Wrote Neil Patrick Harris — actor, producer and director — about Kalanick and Uber for Time, "You don’t realize how much you need something like Uber in your life until you start using it. Until its brilliance and simplicity become a part of your everyday existence. Until you start using Uber as a verb."

Fashion maven Massenet, who earned her B.A. in English from UCLA’s College of Letters and Science in 1987, launched in 2000. The luxury women’s fashion website not only survived the massive dot-com crash of that era but has thrived, expanding under Massenet’s leadership into a fashion and media empire that pulls more than 9 million unique visitors from around the world every month.

Commenting on Massenet’s farsighted concept for designer fashion retailing online, Jenna Lyons,creative director of clothing retailer J. Crew, wrote in Time, "The word ‘visionary’ is lofty, overused ... There are few people who can really see something that doesn’t exist ... Natalie Massenet is, in fact, that visionary. She saw a world where people would pay $2,000 for a pair of jeans, a world where you can buy what you covet, where the magazine pages meet the FedEx man."

UCLA's Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden gets $5 million from Morton La Kretz

New garden entrance, funded by previous La Kretz gift, to open June 2 at noon

UCLA alumnus, philanthropist and environmental champion Morton La Kretz has given a $5 million gift to UCLA's Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, the largest in the garden’s history.

The funds donated by La Kretz will be used to build a garden pavilion that will house a welcome center and classroom, and to establish an endowment to maintain the new pavilion building. The new facility will be named the La Kretz Garden Pavilion. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2015 and conclude by the end of 2016.

In January 2013, La Kretz made a $1 million gift to develop a new entrance to the seven-acre botanical garden, the first step in a series of renovations to increase the garden’s visibility, upgrade its infrastructure, improve its accessibility for the disabled and make it an increased focal point for visitors to UCLA. The new entrance will open with a free public celebration on Monday, June 2, at noon.

"We are extremely grateful for Morton La Kretz’s generous support and leadership," said Victoria Sork, dean of the UCLA Division of Life Sciences. "He shares our vision and commitment to developing the beautiful garden's full potential to serve the campus and community. The garden is a cherished part of our campus but has been desperately in need of improved infrastructure and maintenance for its continued role in education and outreach."

Love at first bite? Not for L.A. school kids and their vegetables

Cajoling, pleading, even blackmail — just a few of the tactics parents have used when their children refuse to eat vegetables they haven't tried before. Now it appears that the nation's second largest school district is facing the same problem.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves more than 650,000 meals each day, has become a national leader in offering healthy foods to its students. In September 2011, LAUSD launched a new lunch menu that features a variety of more wholesome food items, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, vegetarian items and a range of healthy ethnic foods.

Two months after the new menu was introduced, researchers from UCLA and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health wanted to understand how students were responding to the new offerings. Their research, conducted at four Los Angeles schools, found that many children didn't eat even a bite of the new, healthier items.

William McCarthy, a professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and colleagues, measured the quantities of food left unselected in cafeteria food lines and the amount of food left over on students' lunch trays. Almost 32 percent of students in the cafeteria lines did not select fruit, and almost 40 percent did not select vegetables. Among those who did select a fruit or vegetable, 22 percent threw away the fruit and 31 percent tossed vegetable items, without eating a single bite. Boys consistently threw away more fruit and vegetables away without tasting them than did girls.

The results appear in the current online edition of the journal Preventive Medicine.

Nobel laureate, renowned actor and celebrated musician among UCLA graduation speakers

CEOs of Boeing and YouTube also will address Class of 2014

Nobel Prize winner Randy Schekman, celebrated actress Jane Fonda and award-winning musician Herbie Hancock are among the prominent figures who will speak at UCLA's 2014 commencement ceremonies, which are now underway and will continue through June 15.

During the ceremonies, the UCLA Medal, the campus’s highest honor, will be presented to Schekman, entertainment executive and philanthropist David Geffen, and Dr. Gary Parker, the chief medical officer of Mercy Ships. The medal is presented to those of exceptionally distinguished academic and professional achievement whose work embodies the campus's highest ideals.

Commencement season began May 16 with the School of Law commencement, at which former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens spoke. In all, graduating students and guests will attend more than 60 commencement ceremonies, receptions and celebrations, and UCLA will confer thousands of bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees.

UCLA's largest commencement is for the College of Letters and Science, which takes place during two ceremonies at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 13, at Pauley Pavilion. Schekman, the UCLA alumnus who was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, will deliver the keynote address to approximately 5,200 graduating seniors, and their family and friends.

A faculty member at UC Berkeley for 37 years, Schekman won the Nobel Prize for his role in revealing the machinery that regulates the transport and secretion of proteins in human cells, which has helped advance scientists' understanding of neurological and immune disorders.

Stevens was an associate justice from 1975 to 2010, making him one of the longest-serving justices in the history of the Supreme Court. Two-time Academy Award winner, author and fitness icon Jane Fonda will speak at the School of Theater, Film and Television ceremony on Friday, June 13. Hancock, the award-winning pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer, will speak at the School of the Arts and Architecture ceremony on Saturday, June 14.

For information about the ceremonies, including updates and details for specific schools and programs, visit UCLA Commencement. UCLA's commencement ceremonies and speakers are:

Friday, May 30

Rebecca Onie, co-founder and CEO of Health Leads, will speak at the David Geffen School of Medicine Hippocratic Oath Ceremony at 5 p.m. in Dickson Court North (map). David Geffen will receive the UCLA Medal at the ceremony.

Sunday, June 1

Gary Parker, a UCLA alumnus and chief medical officer of Mercy Ships, will speak at the School of Dentistry ceremony at 10 a.m. in Royce Hall (map). Parker will receive the UCLA Medal during the ceremony.

Thursday, June 12

The Graduate Division's doctoral hooding ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. in Royce Hall. Scott Waugh, UCLA's executive vice chancellor and provost, and Robin Garrell, dean of the Graduate Division, will address the graduates.

Friday, June 13

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass will speak at the Luskin School of Public Affairs ceremony at 9 a.m. in Royce Hall.

Jane Fonda will speak at the School of Theater, Film and Television ceremony at 2 p.m. in Royce Hall.

Susan Wojcicki, a UCLA alumna and the CEO of YouTube, will speak at the Anderson School of Management ceremony at 4 p.m. in Wilson Plaza (map).

Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will speak at the Fielding School of Public Health ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in Royce Hall.

Saturday, June 14

David Vlahov, dean of the UC San Francisco School of Nursing and member at large of  the International Society for Urban Health, will speak at the School of Nursing ceremony at 8:30 a.m. in Royce Hall.

W. James McNerney Jr., chairman of the board and CEO of Boeing, will speak at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science ceremony at 12:30 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion (map).

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and an international authority on mass migration, globalization and education, will speak at the school's ceremony at 4 p.m. in Wilson Plaza.

Herbie Hancock will speak at the School of the Arts and Architecture ceremony at 4 p.m. in Dickson Court North.