In 1968, climbing the steps of what was then the Main Library wasn’t an easy task for Karen Phillips; she had to make it past the anti-Vietnam war protestors lying flat on the concrete.
‘Most of the university students were democrats,’ Phillips, a 1968 UC Irvine alumna, said. ‘I usually got funny looks from people because I was a republican.’
These were the conversations held by many ‘founding’ alumni of UCI at a Founders Day reception hosted by the UCI Alumni Association on Oct. 11 at the University Club in celebration of the university’s 40th birthday.
According to Steve Capps, a 1969 alumnus from the School of Social Sciences and member of the Alumni Association, the event was ‘to celebrate [those] who cared enough to come back after 40 years and can share memories and inspire others.’
There were 1,589 students when UCI opened in 1965, compared to the approximately 24,000 students today.
The theme for UCI’s 40th anniversary is ’40 years of innovation.’ Capps claimed that the whole theme of innovation ‘really started in 1965’ based on the belief that UCI had plans to be a progressive school in research and academics even then.
According to Jorge Ancona, executive director of the Alumni Association, plans for the event started when the 40th anniversary planning committee discussed what events they wanted to see while preparing for their 50th anniversary.
‘We thought it’d be nice to have a series of events to celebrate the 40th,’ Ancona said. ‘The Alumni Association had the opportunity to reconnect with a group of alumni that may typically not come back to campus.’
The event started out with a casual cocktail reception where former alumni, some of them accompanied by their spouses, mingled with ‘founders’ of UCI