Your support can transform lives

Stephanie Patterson Ph.D '13
Scholarship Recipient

A fellowship for a talented graduate student may hold the key to a groundbreaking discovery that will benefit millions.

Stephanie Patterson Ph.D ’13, a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, financial support from the Chancellor’s Greatest Needs Fund allowed her to contribute to UCLA’s long history in studying autism development disorder.

As a student, Stephanie co-authored a book that advises parents and practitioners on how to help kids with autism participate in team sports. 

About the Chancellor's Greatest Needs fund

The Chancellor’s Greatest Needs fund is a flexible source of support for the entire campus—it’s an insurance policy for the people, places and programs that need it most. Chancellor’s Greatest Needs allows the university to act quickly to develop new programs and curriculum, retain faculty and seize exciting opportunities.

View Chancellor's Greatest Needs: At A Glance

Your Gifts at Work

Graduate Student Scholarships

Chancellor’s Greatest Needs funds  scholarships that allow UCLA to recruit and enroll bright, promising graduate students. The scholarships allow these graduate students to focus on being a part of UCLA’s tradition of being pioneers in the study of emerging fields and topics.

  • 5 students in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

  • 4 students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

  • 4 students in Psychology

  • 2 students in English

  • 1 student each in Art History, Asian Languages & Culture, Classics, French and Francophone Studies, Germanic Languages, Italian, Near Eastern Languages & Cultures

Curriculum & Course Work Development

Programs such as Fiat Lux and Freshman Clusters, created with seed money from Chancellor's Greatest Needs, highlight UCLA’s innovative undergraduate curriculum.

Freshman Clusters 

Freshman clusters have been a life-changing experience for the students, graduate student instructors, and faculty participating in them. These skills intensive courses are organized around topics of timely importance such as “bioengineering and society” and “interracial dynamics in America,” they are open only to first year students, and they are collaboratively taught by teams of faculty members and graduate students from disciplines and departments across campus. During fall and winter quarters, freshmen attend lecture courses and small discussion and/or laboratory sections. In the spring quarter, they enroll in one of a number “capstone” seminars that build on their experiences in the first two quarters and challenge them to complete a substantive research project of their own.

In 1997, the Chancellor’s Greatest Needs paid for the clusters’ $2 million start-up costs, launching a program that raised the bar for teaching and learning. Since then, the program has developed and offered a total of fifteen cluster courses, involving a total of 16,322 freshmen (roughly 40% of all incoming first year students), 372 graduate student instructors, and 228 ladder and non-ladder faculty members drawn from over 40 departments.

Students enrolled in a cluster graduate with strong writing skills and the ability to think critically about a wide range of academic and social issues. Students also make long lasting friendships with other students and faculty throughout the year-long course.


  • Created February 12, 1998
  • 15 Cluster Courses Created
  • 16,322 Students Enrolled
  • 228 Faculty Instructors
  • 372 Teaching Assistants

Fiat Lux 

The Fiat Lux Freshman Seminar Program is an integral part of undergraduate education at UCLA. The seminars are a short-term, low-stakes way for undergraduate students to explore and engage in academic discourse on a myriad of topics in small groups led by faculty, administrators, and even the Chancellor. Seminars are one unit and graded pass/no pass.

Thanks to Chancellor’s Greatest Needs, UCLA was able to quickly launch the Fiat Lux Freshman Seminar Program just weeks after the events of September 11th. The Fiat Lux seminars were founded as a place for students to process the trauma of the events through discussion and dialogue in a small class (no more than 20 students) and ladder faculty.

Since its inception in 2001, over 33,000 UCLA undergraduate alumni have enrolled in 2,158 Fiat Lux seminars which have been taught by 1,804 faculty members from all areas of The College of Letters and Science and UCLA's 11 professional schools.

The Fiat Lux program celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011. Alumni and faculty discussion leaders spoke candidly about their experience in this video.

Research Grants

Annually, UCLA conducts over $1 billion dollars in competitively awarded research grants and contracts across 350 research programs and centers. The University holds manages 1,800 inventions, 500 material transfer agreements, and enters into roughly 50 licensing and 400 industry-sponsored agreements each year. Chancellor's Greatest Needs provides matching funds to grants that are conditional on university support.

UCLA Volunteer Center

Funds from Chancellor's Greatest Needs helped launch the UCLA Volunteer Center in 2009, which is the central hub for civic engagement, linking students, staff, faculty, and alumni to numerous projects across Los Angeles.

Though its website and use of social media, the Center also serves as a hub for community planning material, how-to guides, recognition of community leadership, opportunities for volunteers to share their experience and connect with others, and access to an interactive database and calendar of volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles 

Today, more than half of UCLA's undergraduates currently participate in a wide range of ongoing community service projects, ranging from tutoring yougnsters from low-performing schools to providing legal and medical assistance to the needy.  

At a time when volunteer participation is viewed as a national priority, by starting the Volunteer Center, Chancellor Block has positioned the University as a catalyst for social change and a leader among educational institutions.