December 07, 2018 • By Christine Byrd
Greg Lai’s legacy investment of $250,000 this year — his largest ever in the UCI Paul Merage of School of Business — grew from decades of gaining from and giving back to the school. Lai and supporters like him have made possible the Merage School’s upward climb.
“I believe the Merage School is at another inflection point, and in the next decade or so, it will break into the top 20 among all national universities.” Lai explains, “Now is the time for us to lead this new wave of giving.”
Though Lai earned his MBA in 1988, his connection to UCI goes back further: his dad joined UCI’s research faculty in its early days, and he met his wife Cindy, ’92, at UCI when she was an undergraduate and he was earning his MBA and serving as a teaching assistant for the chemistry department.
Lai’s career post-graduation was studded with success. He snagged internships in real estate finance and investment management that he parlayed into a full time appointment as a quantitative specialist at PIMCO. He founded his own boutique investment firm, Affinity Investment Advisors, which he sold to Morgan Stanley. Plus, the biggest success of all: he and Cindy raised two collegebound daughters.
“After I graduated, I really felt like I owed all my success to UCI and Merage,” says Lai.
So, when Lai turned 50, he began thinking more seriously about his legacy and whether his actions will make the world a better place. For the Lai family, UCI is like home and Anteaters are family, so it is the perfect place to build a legacy.
He and Cindy believe it will require an active group of supporters and alumni to push the Merage School to the next level of excellence. “You have to trust in the long term,” says Lai, “you only get to that future by investing today.”
Over the years, Lai has given to UCI in myriad ways, from chairing advisory boards to serving as an adjunct lecturer — what he describes as the most rewarding experience.
“UCI is a great place to continue to learn, whether you’re a student or working professional,” he says. “The innovation, the ideas, and the youthful energy of the students all keep me young. I know my investment will support that into the future.”
The face of giving: