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Sorting through all of UC Irvine’s distinctions, including a top-ranking among research universities in the nation, three Nobel laureates and over 30 Olympians, it’s hard to believe that UCI was once an eight-building campus surrounded by ranches with a population of just over 1,500. Today, UCI is lucky to have founding faculty and students still around campus to share their experiences in building our distinguished school.
Roy Dormaier, vice chancellor of budget and finance, was part of UCI’s founding class in 1965. He enrolled as an engineering major, but later changed to economics. Convenient timing, location and the reputation of the University of California all contributed to his enrollment at UCI.
‘[There was] a certain amount of excitement about a brand new campus and being able to establish traditions,’ Dormaier said.
One of these traditions was UCI’s beloved mascot, voted over seahawks, roadrunners and unicorns, among other ideas. Other traditions included basketball games held not in the Bren Events Center, but in what is now Crawford Hall.
Student life was very different in 1965; there were fewer students and fewer facilities.
‘There wasn’t much here then,’ Dormaier said. ‘During the first or second year, the Irvine Company developed a little shopping center and Spritzgarten, a little place that sold sandwiches and beer and stuff like that.

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