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 died last spring after a long and distinguished career as an educator, business owner and philanthropist.
The Indian American professor taught at Cal State L.A for more than two decades and valued its role in providing first-generation college students an outstanding education.
The endowment will be used to provide funding for a faculty member to focus on research, said Mark Sikand, president of Sikand Engineering Associates, founded by his father in 1958.
Cal State L.A. president William A. Covino thanked the family for the gift and pointed out that Sikand was a role model and mentor who left a lasting legacy at Cal State L.A
Over the last two decades, Sikand established three endowments at the university 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 Freshmen Design Fund.
“The Sikand Senior Design and Freshman Design Fund have 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 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 to attend AuburnUniversity. He earned a 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.
Prof. Sikand was one of the early pioneers of the college, proposing countless new engineering courses and teaching a wide range of classes, added Young Kim, emeritus professor and chair of civil engineering at Cal State L.A. “His students greatly benefitted from his real-world experience, Kim added.