For many, the start of a new year is a time of anticipation and excitement. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest were a rough start to 2021, there are many bright spots in store for UCI’s students and community. For instance, Anteaters can look forward to visiting the newly renovated 5th floor of the Science Library when they return to campus! But what do the finished renovations mean for campus and the UCI community as a whole? Here’s everything you need to know.

About the Project

In 2018, a Provost-charged Ad Hoc Committee determined the positive impact of creating a space where students could access key undergraduate resources in close connection with library services. Construction within the Science Library began shortly after. 

Kevin Ruminson, Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services, reveals that the project started long before the committee presented its findings. “This project has actually been in the works since 2016. It began with a conversation between Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education, and Lorelei Tanji, University Librarian,” he explains. “Michael and Lorelei were very interested in the potential for centralizing key undergraduate services and capitalizing on the synergy between their missions, functions, and resources.”

Now, with construction expected to finish by early February 2021, University Librarian Tanji is thrilled to see how the project has come together:

“After years of brainstorming, planning, and hard work, it is incredible to see our ideas become a reality. For myself and the many others involved, the 5th floor is so much more than a renovation project. It represents our dedication to improving the student experience, our commitment to pedagogical innovation, and our willingness to evolve to serve the changing needs of the modern university student.”

In keeping with this vision, the UCI community can look forward to a freshly reimagined space designed to offer productive study options, collaborative learning opportunities, and other innovative experiences to promote academic excellence.

For instance, the completed 5th floor will include the Student Excellence Center, which will house three units from the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE): the Campuswide Honors Collegium, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and the Scholarship Opportunities Program. While the units will begin moving into the Student Excellence Center shortly, DUE staff will continue working and offering student services remotely until the Science Library reopens. 

In addition to the Student Excellence Center, the 5th floor will also feature exciting upgrades like the iLab Library Instruction Space, Visualization Wall, and Collaboration Zone. Madelynn Dickerson, UCI Libraries Head of Digital Scholarship Services, explains that these upgrades will unlock a world of new study and instructional opportunities. She breaks down the key features of each:

  • iLab Library Instruction Space 
    • Dedicated to active learning and fostering collaboration with a particular focus on data and visual literacy
    • Designed to host workshops, classes, and programs that promote information fluency in an active learning environment
  • The Visualization Wall and Workshop Space
    • Provides a location for small group instruction and the viewing of large-scale data visualizations
    • Supports teaching and research in all disciplines by providing new ways to view and interact with research data
  • Science Library Collaboration Zone
    • Designed to promote small group collaborations and workshops
    • Features flexible furniture and technology designed to facilitate creativity and collaboration
    • Includes mobile whiteboards, easily-movable chairs and tables, and large digital displays that can connect to multiple devices over Wi-Fi. 

Campus Impact 

While the completed 5th-floor renovations will benefit UCI’s diverse student body, they will also further UCI’s campuswide plans to promote student excellence. Specifically, the Science Library’s renovations fulfill Pillars 2 and 4 of UCI’s strategic plan.

Pillar 2: First in Class focuses on elevating academic, co-curricular, and career development experiences to empower UCI students to become the next generation of leaders. The 5th-floor renovations improve student academic outcomes and learning experiences by providing more open study seating, group study rooms, flexible library instruction labs, and enhanced electrical and data coverage for student laptops and other portable devices. Ruminson notes, “These renovations are creating fresh, exciting, and productive study options for students, and the new spaces and service locations will be beneficial to the overall student experience.”

Pillar 4: New Paths for Our Brilliant Future recognizes the importance of finding innovative and sustainable financial solutions to continue serving UCI students and the community. According to Ruminson, the library renovations fulfill Pillar 4 because they find creative ways to revitalize an existing space and create value that extends far beyond the initial investment. “Space is at a premium on campus, and constructing new space is very expensive,” he points out. “Renovating the existing space provides a cost-effective solution to provide several essential services in a centralized, easily-accessible location.”

For Jennifer Aaron, Associate Vice Provost and Chief of Staff for the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL), the 5th-floor renovations and the new Student Excellence Center exemplifies the importance of different campus departments coming together to improve the student experience:

“The OVPTL’s mission is to promote the academic and future success of UCI students through campus and community partnerships. We are so grateful for the opportunity to build on our relationship with UCI Libraries and create the Student Excellence Center. The center will allow our DUE units to serve more students, enhance their engagement with them and continue to provide valuable services and experiences to our student population.”

Naming Opportunities and Grand Opening

While the final touches are being added to the Science Library’s 5th floor, the project is not fully complete—there are some exciting naming opportunities for interested parties. The iLab Library Instruction Space, Visualization Wall and Workshop Space, and Science Library Collaboration Zone are all available for naming rights. There are also various study spaces, alcoves, and rooms throughout the 5th floor that need names. Finally, there are also several naming opportunities within the Student Excellence Center. 

If you are interested in securing naming rights for any of the Science Library’s 5th-floor upgrades, then please contact Wendi Morner, UCI Libraries Director of Development, at (949) 824-8904 or If you are interested in learning more about naming rights within the new Student Excellence Center, then contact Matthew Princetta, OVPTL Director of Development, at (949) 824-2974 or

With over five years invested in the Science Library’s 5th-floor renovation project, a celebration is definitely in order! Though the pandemic has thrown a wrench in the unveiling, Ruminson isn’t letting COVID bring him down: “We are extremely excited to see the completed 5th floor, and we are planning a grand opening event once the Science Library officially reopens!”

For more information on the Science Library’s 5th-floor renovation project, contact Kevin Ruminson at For information on UCI Libraries’ services during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here. To learn more about the Campuswide Honors Collegium, Undergraduate Opportunities Program, Scholarship Opportunities Program, or other DUE units, click here.