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September 26, 2012

$20-Million Gift Will Bolster Engineering at U. of San Diego

The University of San Diego will use a $20-million gift from the philanthropist Darlene Shiley to transform its engineering department into a full-fledged school, boosting its profile in a fast-growing academic field, the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.

Ms. Shiley's husband, Donald, who died in 2010, was one of the world's first bioengineers and invented heart valves that went into wide use in the 1970s, revolutionizing cardiac care. The couple earlier gave the university a total of $13.5-million for science, technology, and arts programs.

The new gift will allow the university to hire a dean and support staff and to offer scholarships for its engineering program, in which enrollment has tripled to 363 since 2004. The program is ranked 25th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego have also expanded their efforts in the field, reflecting high demand for engineering graduates in a region that is home to numerous major defense, electronics, and biotechnology firms.