A wealthy UC Irvine professor who made his fortune in winemaking, has donated $10 million to the school, the largest donation ever by a member of school faculty.
Seventy-seven-year-old Francisco Ayala, who is one of the world's top molecular biologists and is also an ordained priest. He owns more than 2,000 acres of vineyards in northern San Joaquin and Sacramento counties. He's producing well-regarded crops of Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and other varietals.
"I've finished planting the last part of my last vineyard about three or four years ago, which means by now I have every vineyard in full production," Ayala said.
The Los Angeles Times says the bounty of those fields has allowed Ayala to donate $10 million — $1 million a year for the next decade — to UC Irvine's School of Biological Sciences.
Ayala has been at the school for over two decades, and said he chose to donate because he appreciates all the support and encouragement the school has given him over the years.
"The university has given me wonderful opportunities to do research and to teach," Ayala said.
Now, because of the increasing cost of a public education, Ayala said his donation was needed even more. The money will go towards a variety of items, including the creation of fellowships and professor chairs.