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Cal State L.A. receives $1 million Sikand Foundation gift to support faculty research in urban sustainability

March 18, 2015

Cal State L.A. has been awarded a $1 million gift from The Sikand Foundation to establish the Gunjit S. Sikand Faculty Endowment for Research in Urban Sustainability.

The Sikand family established the endowment as a tribute to former Cal State L.A. Civil Engineering Professor Gunjit Sikand, who passed away last spring after a long and distinguished career as an educator, business owner and philanthropist. Sikand taught at the University for more than two decades and valued its role in providing first-generation college students an outstanding education and ensuring they possessed the expertise and accomplishments that would lead to further success.

Sikand family“The endowment will be used in perpetuity to provide funding for a faculty member, allowing them time to focus on research,” said Mark Sikand, president of Sikand Engineering Associates, which was founded by his father in 1958.

Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino thanked the Sikand family for the generous gift and noted that it would greatly benefit the University in conducting research on one of the most important issues facing the Los Angeles region. “Professor Sikand was an admired educator, role model and mentor whose contributions have left a lasting legacy at Cal State L.A.,” Covino said.

Over the last two decades, Sikand had established three endowments at Cal State L.A. through his Foundation: the Sikand Scholarship Fund, the Gunjit Sikand Civil Engineering Endowed Guest Lecture Fund, and the Gunjit Sikand Civil Engineering Endowed Senior Design and Freshman Design Fund.

“The Sikand Senior Design and Freshman Design Fund has tremendously impacted project-based civil engineering education at Cal State L.A. This funding was critical in creating our senior design course, which won two national awards from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in 2010 and 2011,” Covino said.

Emily Allen, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology, said the Sikand family’s gift would serve as a cornerstone for a proposed Institute for Urban Sustainability at Cal State L.A.

“The next generation is deeply concerned about how we will survive as the climate changes, and with the research supported by this gift we can help make Los Angeles County a model for sustainable development,” Allen said.

Sikand emigrated from India when he was 20 years old to attend Auburn University. He earned his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Colorado, where he met his wife, Margarete. He began his teaching career at Cal State L.A. in 1958.

“Professor Sikand was one of the early pioneers of the College, proposing countless new engineering courses and teaching a wide range of classes,” said Young Kim, emeritus professor and chair of civil engineering at Cal State L.A. “He brought with him practical engineering experience and knowledge he gained from the private sector. His students greatly benefitted from his real-world experience.”

Photo: Sikand family members, in the back from left to right: sister Renee, mother Margarete, wife Lynette, dad Gunjit, sister Annette, and Mark. His two sons are in the front, from left to right: Owen and Mark Jr. (Credit: Mark Sikand)

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