Thursday, June 4, 2020
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UCIrvine 40 years of innovation

UC Irvine will turn 40 years old on Oct. 4, 2005, which is the same day that faculty, staff and students gathered in front of the flagpoles to say the Pledge of Allegiance and open the school in 1965.
For the past several months, two committees have been planning the activities and events that will take place this quarter in celebration of the 40th anniversary with the theme of ‘Forty Years of Innovation.’
Spencer Olin, professor emeritus of history and a former dean of the School of Humanities, is the chair of the steering committee, which is in charge of the broader aspects of the celebration.
‘What we tried to do is plan a series of events that will appeal to a very wide variety of possible attendees,’ Olin said. ‘We’re not only trying to reach out to students, faculty and staff, but community members as well and try to bring people to the campus.’
The first major event of the celebration is the ‘Concert in the Park’ which takes place this Thursday, Sept. 29, at 5 p.m. in Aldrich Park.
Liz Toomey, assistant vice chancellor of community and state governmental relations for university advancement and the chair of the second committee in charge of the finer details of the events, explained that ‘Concert in the Park’ is a past tradition at UCI.
‘This is looking back at a tradition that the university enjoyed a number of years ago when we used to co-host with the Irvine Company a series of concerts in Aldrich Park,’ Toomey said. ‘This is harkening back to that tradition.’
‘Concert in the Park’ is sponsored by UCI and the City of Irvine with additional support from Diedrich Coffee, the University Club and The Paul Merage School of Business. The Fabulous Thunderbirds will be performing along with student groups Jodaiko, Dancesport’s Latin Dance Team and Alpha Phi Alpha’s step dance group and refreshments in the park.
The Alumni Association will also be sponsoring The Founders Day 2005 Reception, which will take place on Oct. 11, will allow faculty, staff and alumni from the first class of UCI to reunite.
A Nov. 3 symposium organized and moderated by Olin, will be the signature event of the six-month celebration.
The symposium will examine all the ways that UCI has been innovative in its 40 years of existence, from its architecture and design to its plan for academic excellence.
‘I tried to select topics for the symposium each of which, when properly analyzed, will reveal the way in which UCI has been truly innovative, whether it’s in the design or in the campus as a whole in relation to the city, which was not yet born, or whether it was in the way we designed our curriculum and developed our academic programs,’ Olin said.
Toomey explained that UCI has achieved quite a lot in its short existence.
‘In 40 years, this campus has achieved a level of greatness that is very unique,’ Toomey said. ‘I can’t imagine the institutions of higher learning having the kind of achievements that we have, such as the fact that we have three Nobel laureates, and what they did in their scientific research is certainly an indicator of innovation that has come from this institution.’
Both Olin and Toomey’s longtime connection to UCI has made their work in planning the 40th anniversary important and special.
‘We had periods of rapid growth and periods of budgetary recessions,’ Olin said. ‘I happened to be serving as dean during one of the grim periods in the early 1990s where we were really struggling. We’re back again, though there are certain budgetary limitations that we’re facing, I think it’s a very promising period ahead and I’ve been privileged to have been a part of it in various ways.’
Toomey, who is the daughter of the founding chancellor, Daniel Aldrich, has a special connection to the campus and her knowledge about the campus is one of the reasons she was asked to help organize the 40th anniversary events.
‘To watch what has happened here is a tremendous honor and pleasure for me because out of that group of founding students and faculty, staff and chancellor, it’s been wonderful,’ Toomey said ‘To honor that group and participate in activities that we feel acknowledges what’s happened in these 40 years is something really special. At that time, the dynamic between the students, faculty and staff was really a family. They were really involved with each other. When you think of the number of buildings that were back at that time, there weren’t too many. The daily opportunity to run into each other and interact with each other and to be pioneers with each other created a very special situation.’
For more information and a complete list of UCI’s 40th anniversary event, visit 40_events.asp.