Highlighting the achievements of the city of Irvine and UC Irvine, city Mayor Beth Krom emphasized the importance of UCI’s relationship with the surrounding city on Friday Nov. 21 at the UCI Student Center.
In a short presentation entitled “The City of Irvine and UCI: a Great Community and a Great University,” Krom spoke of Irvine’s accomplishments and the importance of civic involvement in the current knowledge-based society. UCI Chancellor Michael Drake and Irvine city council members Larry Agran and Sukhee Kang also attended.
One of the most successfully planned and accessible cities, Irvine was also rated one of the safest cities in America by the FBI, the fourth best city to live in by Money Magazine and the best community for young people by America’s Promise Alliance. It is also home to 50 Olympians.
In a time when the nation is under economic duress, Krom reminded audience members that Irvine is committed to maintaining high standards and providing security with its balanced budget and a surplus of $20 million in rainy day reserves to ensure long-term maintenance.
Dispelling misperceptions of Irvine as a predominantly white city, Krom said Irvine is “not only culturally diverse, but thoroughly integrated” with over 50 percent of the population coming from diverse backgrounds and over 60 institutions of faith representing various denominations throughout the city. Agran adds, “No one has done more than Beth Krom to build on that framework of diversity and integration.”
A city that cares about the environment, places a priority on education and believes in affordable housing, Irvine has many events and resources to offer.
“The biggest challenge is connecting the information,” Krom said.
Although in many cities the relationship between “town and gown” is not nearly as strong as it is here, Krom still sees a surprising distinction between the general community and the university world in Irvine.
Ranked the 12th best public university by the U.S. News and World Report, UCI’s new law school will be the first public law school to open in California in more than 40 years.
Because Irvine is home to one of the most active commercial centers with 13,000 businesses, Krom said that students at UCI have the benefit of experiencing the world without ever leaving Irvine. According to Krom, with real life applications just over the fence, great synergies can be gained from being located in Irvine. In fact, UCI is the largest employer in the city of Irvine.
Krom encourages student groups to reach out to off-campus organizations to take advantage of new opportunities. Individual initiative is the basis for change in every community. Council members who were on campus Nov. 4 were inspired by the number of students who exercised their right to vote.
Chancellor Michael Drake reiterates, “The wonderful relationship between town and gown here at UC Irvine is something that I haven’t seen exist … in all these years in academia.”
However, even with the city’s more active participation with the university this year, Krom said that this connection can be improved.
“[There are] many other ways to work together, learn together, share together and enrich this community that we are so fortunate to be a part of,” Krom said.
Drake also pointed to the role of the university as a source of innovative thought.
“A knowledge-based economy is what the future is going to be [and] the university is still the best place for new ideas,” Drake said.
Having served her two-term limit as mayor, Krom will continue to serve Irvine as a council member for the next four years. The new city council, with Sukhee Kang as mayor, will be sworn in Dec. 9.