40th Mark Celebrates Innovation

With UC Irvine’s 40th anniversary quickly approaching in June, the university is in the midst of planning a six-month-long celebration lasting from June to December with the theme ‘Forty Years of Innovation.’
Two committees are helping to plan the anniversary celebration. Spencer Olin, professor emeritus of history, is chairing a five-person steering committee whose goal is to establish broad guidelines for the anniversary. A larger general committee that will deal with logistics is led by Liz Toomey, assistant vice chancellor of community and state governmental relations for university advancement, and Scott Nelson, executive director of university communications.
Nelson explained how his committee created the theme for the anniversary.
‘That was a suggestion from the chancellor,’ Nelson said. ‘The word ‘innovation’ continues to pop up in a lot of contexts around the campus. It seems to be an appropriate description of the university.’
The committee has already defined several goals for the anniversary celebration. They include strengthening connections with UCI’s neighbors; reinforcing bonds with alumni, friends and the campus community; and celebrating the university’s accomplishments.
To achieve these goals, the committee will focus on several strategies, including coordinating with existing events, hosting several signature activities and improving community relations. The committee has created a logo for the anniversary and hopes groups on campus will promote it. The UCI Bookstore will also offer merchandise with anniversary themes.
‘A 40th anniversary is not a 50th, not a 25th,’ Nelson said. ‘There aren’t going to be a lot of resources devoted to this. So we’ll have to do it on a grassroots level. We have to piggyback on a lot of the existing events that happen on campus. If we could provide some tools and let the campus run with it, they can adopt those pieces into it and put a 40th anniversary face into it.’
The first piggyback event will be this year’s commencement ceremonies held in June.
‘We’re giving [commencement planners] the tools to be able to put a visual face on the 40th anniversary,’ Nelson said.
Toomey said that improving community relations is an important aspect of this celebration.
‘This is an opportunity to strengthen the idea that this is Orange County’s research university,’ Toomey said. ‘Unless you are always nurturing that idea, people forget.’
Although the committee is still coming up with ideas for signature events for this anniversary, the committee is entertaining the idea of an outdoor concert in Aldrich Park in early October. However, they have already scheduled a symposium at the Barclay Theatre on Nov. 3 that will examine UCI’s history.
‘This is a two-hour symposium with knowledgeable speakers discussing several issues, including land acquisition and the building of a university-centered community in Irvine, UCI academic plans and structures and UCI campus architecture,’ Olin said. ‘The symposium will be accompanied by an exhibit in the Langson Library dealing with early campus architecture.’
As for student involvement, the committee is hoping that their piggybacking technique will be successful.
‘We’re hoping that through ASUCI and [the Associated Graduate Students], we’ll get some interest generated in student groups,’ Nelson said.