A husband and wife are behind the largest alumni gift yet to UC Irvine, which will go toward supporting information and computer sciences students.

Paul and Jo Butterworth have named UCI as a beneficiary of their estate a gift that’s been valued at about $35.5 million, university officials said. The donation will be put toward helping students with scholarships and fellowships, faculty chairs and supporting new research initiatives within the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

“I was considering not going to the university unless I received financial aid because I didn’t have any money. But when UCI came through with a package to help out, that made all the difference in the world,” Paul Butterworth, who earned a bachelor’s and a master’s from UCI, said in a statement. “This is what inspired us to pledge support for students – so they can follow their dreams despite their financial situations.”

Jo Butterworth, Class of 1975, graduated with a degree from UCI’s School of Social Sciences.

Paul Butterworth, who was one of the early graduates from the university’s computer sciences masters program, is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Vantiq Inc., an enterprise software development company headquartered in Walnut Creek. He previously co-founded Emotive, a cloud platform developer, and Forte Software and has held other computer science-related roles.

“UCI is where I began my career as a computer scientist and software engineer,” he said, adding universities have been the catalyst of much progress in those fields “because that’s where the fundamental technologies were developed. That’s why Jo and I are committed to supporting UCI and its students: Education is where we can have the biggest impact.”

The couple sponsors the Butterworth Product Development Competition, and Paul Butterworth has been on the Dean’s Leadership Council for the information and computer sciences school and on the UCI Audit Committee for a number of years. He is a member of the Bren School’s Hall of Fame, and in 2005, received the Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UCI Alumni Association.

The Bren School has more than 3,900 students, including more than 3,100 undergrads across seven majors, and is the only “computing-focused” school in the UC system, according to information about the school.

“We are enormously grateful for this generous contribution,” Marios Papaefthymiou, the school’s dean, said in a statement. “This gift will serve as a strong and enduring foundation for supporting student success in our school well into the future.”

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