University of California Irvine: UCI becomes founding member of collegiate esports leadership group

The University of California, Irvine has become a founding member of Voice of Intercollegiate Esports to take an active role in shaping the higher education esports ecosystem. As a member of VOICE, UCI will join other collegiate esports leaders in conversations about issues in the esports environment. UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman will head the organization’s President’s Council, convening key people from many of the top academic institutions to address the rapidly growing esports landscape.

“UCI is thrilled to be a founding member of VOICE,” Gillman said. “I look forward to working with other university leaders to provide guidance to the nascent and exciting field of collegiate esports.”

As a founding member, UCI will have access to best-practice resources, speakers’ series, networking events, enhanced student opportunities and original industry reports, including benchmarking data to help develop the university’s existing esports program, launched in 2015.

“VOICE seeks to represent the interests of higher education in the fragmented and murky world of college esports,” said Mark Deppe, founding director of UCI’s highly regarded esports program, who will have a seat on the VOICE board. “It includes many of the best and brightest folks in our industry, including former UCI Esports staff.”

Both VOICE and UCI recognize the importance of having higher education leaders set the direction for college esports. As head of the President’s Council, Gillman will take an active role in cultivating the involvement of other Association of American Universities members. Kurt Melcher, who started the first-ever college esports program, at Chicago’s Robert Morris University, is VOICE president; and Glenn Platt, who founded and co-directs Miami University’s esports program (ranked by Best Colleges as the No. 1 college varsity esports program of 2022, with UCI being No. 2), is VOICE secretary.

The announcement of UCI’s founding membership in VOICE comes on the heels of the campus’s competitive successes in the second annual University of California Esports Initiative Invitational. The UCEI event is a celebration of the esports communities at all nine undergraduate campuses that encourages friendly competition, information exchange, student skills development, networking and esports visibility. UCI earned first-place finishes in Overwatch and Valorant and a second-place finish in League of Legends.

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