October 21, 2021 • By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business
Merage School Professor Gerardo Okhuysen and his husband Chris Pounds, director of corporate strategy for business analytics at Edwards Lifesciences, have established a scholarship fund for Merage School undergrads with dreams of studying abroad. The funds will be awarded annually starting Spring 2022, pending current COVID-19 restrictions.
Their generous gift reflects their joint vision of shaping future business leaders with a global vision. The Gerardo Okhuysen and Chris Pounds Scholarship Fund will help enrich the student experience for undergraduate students struggling to find a way to pay for international residentials.
“Chris’ career has been global in nature, and I was born and raised in Mexico,” said Professor Okhuysen. “Not only are we committed to the cause of public education, but we also understand how much our careers have blossomed thanks to our global experiences. We want to ensure all students have this opportunity.”
Okhuysen and Pounds believe that exposing students to new cultures, ideas and ways of doing business will enrich their worldview and have far-reaching benefits.
For Pounds, his global experiences have personally shaped his career and managerial style.
“Having worked with a global team at GE Healthcare, where about 60% of our revenue came from outside the U.S. I was exposed to many different cultures and experiences,” explained Pounds. “It helped me appreciate how different people view the world and helped me become a stronger manager.”
A global mindset is especially important as the world continues its fight against COVID-19.
“The current crisis reinforces the fact that we are one world and we cannot draw borders,” explained Okhuysen. “The pandemic does not respect borders and fighting situations such as these requires global citizens and people who feel a sense of responsibility for all of us, not just some of us.”
Pounds is a staunch believer in the power of philanthropy when it comes to higher education.
He says: “Education is a long-term investment that will pay dividends. I came from an economically disadvantaged background, but I also had a lot of social advantages. It’s important for me to support public education, which oftentimes has a broader and more diverse population.”
Dean Ian O. Williamson, who has worked with executives in over 20 countries across six continents, celebrates the global focus of this gift.
“Gerardo and Chris understand the importance of acquiring a global lens and ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table, no matter their background or circumstances,” said Dean Williamson. “Their generous gift will provide transformative experiences for generations of our undergraduate students to come.”Okhuysen and Pounds are inspired by the contributions to both funds that have been made by faculty, staff and friends of the School.