BCOE celebrates Professor Emeritus Thomas H. Payne’s 80th birthday

The Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) celebrated Professor Emeritus Thomas H. Payne’s 80th birthday and 55 years of service to the University of California, Riverside (UCR)  on Saturday, April 2. Payne played a significant role in developing BCOE and growing the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He served as department chair twice and is known for being a trusted faculty member, mentor and friend to countless young people.

Dean Christopher S. Lynch and his wife Anne hosted the celebration at their home. Attendees included Payne’s friends and family, faculty and staff colleagues, and current and former students. During the program, Dean Lynch described Payne’s achievements and his crucial role in developing the Computer Science program at UCR. Next, Louis Van Den Berg, UCR alumnus and director of UCR’s radio station (KUCR 88.3 FM) and one of Tom’s long-time friends, shared several stories that brought nostalgic memories and good laughs. After Louis spoke, Jed Schwendiman, assistant dean of development of BCOE, provided an update on the Thomas H. Payne Endowed Scholarship in Computer Science.

Since the scholarship was established in 2013, it has been awarded to 14 BCOE students. Two scholarship recipients, Lucca Psaila ‘22 and Chloe Georgiou ‘24, attended the event.

“The Thomas Payne scholarship affirmed my abilities as a Computer Science student and raised my confidence that I can perform even better in my classes,” said Georgiou. “I was excited to meet Professor Payne at his birthday celebration and I am grateful for the scholarship support.”

One of Payne’s former students and current chair of the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees, Brian Hawley, was a key leader in establishing the scholarship. Brian and Vickie Hawley were early supporters of the scholarship and provided a gift this year that was used for matching funds to grow the scholarship. Additionally, BCOE Dean’s Council of Advisors member Wallace Brithinnee and UCR Foundation Trustee Sam Konyn were thanked for their leadership contributions to the scholarship.

Following Schwendiman’s remarks, Dean Lynch invited Payne and his wife, Valerie, to the front and presented a gift to them. Next, Payne was invited to share thoughts on his time at UCR. “It could not have been a better party,” said Payne. “I enjoyed every minute and was so pleased to see everyone there.” Following the program, guests were invited to stay and enjoy the festivities.

Professor Payne’s former students, friends, and family were all invited to donate to the Thomas H. Payne Endowed Scholarship in Computer Science in lieu of birthday gifts. So far this year, the college has raised $55,317 from 69 unique donors and is well on the way to reaching the goal of $80,000 and 80 donors by June 30, 2022.

“Tom is an inspirational faculty member who has had a big impact on the lives of his students for more than five decades. He has helped shape what has become one of UCR’s largest and most successful departments,” said Schwendiman.

If you’d like to contribute to the Thomas Payne Endowed Scholarship in Computer Science, visit:

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