$25 million gift from Siebel to fund Siebel Center for design construction

By Megan Jones, Staff Writer

Funding for construction of the new Siebel Center for Design will come from a $25 million donation from Thomas Siebel, a University alumnus and tech entrepreneur, according to a news release.

This is the second gift from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, who funded the Siebel Center for Computer Science in Urbana. The $48 million project’s remaining funding will come from institutional funds.

“Tom Siebel has established himself as one of the world’s leading innovators by refusing to be limited by disciplinary boundaries – whether in software, in energy systems or through his campaign against methamphetamine abuse,” said Chancellor Robert Jones in a news release. “It is clear to me that he focuses on big problems and brings the right expertise and resources together to solve them. And he’s spent his career developing companies and products that help others do the same thing.”

The two-story building next to Huff Hall and the Art and Design Building is envisioned as a hub for student-focused design thinking across various disciplines. Rather than offer independent degree programs, the center will help the existing colleges incorporate design principles and practices into their own curriculum.

The center will support product, process and user interface design, with an emphasis on technology and creativity.

“The combination of top-tier academics and entrepreneurial drive at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is powerful,” Siebel said. “By infusing all areas of study with the multidisciplinary approaches of design thinking, this facility will create unlimited opportunities for the students to fuel and nurture that drive.”

Construction will begin in the summer of 2017 and is expected to take 18 months. The center will have five team-based collaboration studios for up to 400 students, open gathering areas and meeting rooms to encourage informal interaction. It will also have a large workshop for 3-D printing, metal fabrication, laser cutting, water-jet cutting and computer controlled machining.

Siebel was the founder and chief executive officer of Siebel Systems, which merged with Oracle Corporation in 2006.