In Memoriam: Laurel L. Wilkening, 1944-2019

Laurel L. Wilkening, the third chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, passed away on June 4, 2019. She was 74 years old.

Dr. Wilkening began her academic and administrative careers at the University of Arizona, where she initially taught cosmo-chemistry and planetary science. She went on to serve as the university’s director of the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory and vice president for research. In 1988, she became provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1993, Dr. Wilkening came to the University of California, Irvine as the school’s third chancellor and the third woman chancellor in University of California System history. During her career, the university received its first two Nobel Prizes, contributed more than $1 billion per year to the local economy, complete 250,000 square feet of construction, increased private, state, and federal funding, and became one of the top 50 research universities in the country. Dr. Wilkening retired from the university in 1998.

In honor of her career at UCI, chancellor Ralph Cicerone dedicated the Laurel L. Wilkening Rose Garden in front of the Irvine Barclay Theatre in 2005. Dr. Wilkening received the UCI Medal in 2009. In 2013, an asteroid discovered by NASA-funded astronomers at the University of Arizona was officially named to honor Dr. Wilkening.

Dr. Wilkening was a graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she majored in chemistry. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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