UCI: Then and Now

By Ruhani Sandhu


Throughout the last 50 years, the UC Irvine campus has exhibited vast changes. What started out as 1,589 students is now 28,000 students and has a reputation as one of the most distinguished universities in the world. So, what kind of changes has UCI made in the last 50 years?

In 2012, UCI is counted among the top research universities and is a contender with the top UC campuses. This campus is distinguished from the other campuses because it was not named after the city that it was located in.

The city of Irvine did not exist until 1975. When it was established in 1965, the campus was named after James Irvine, the landowner who administered Irvine Ranch.  UCI’s inaugural class in 1966 had a total of 14 students.

There have been many recent academic changes to UCI’s programs. Within the last four to five years, programs such as public health, pharmaceutical sciences, the nursing program and the School of Law were added. In August of 2009, UCI celebrated the grand opening of its law school. Currently, there are 93 students enrolled. Forty-seven percent of the the inaugural class of 2013 is made up of students of color, marking it as one of the most diverse law school classes in the country. Additionally, 47 percent of the class is composed of women.

Over time, there have been programs to not only help the campus grow socially, but also to create a more unified and diverse university. One of these programs is a UC-wide initiative program known as the “Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion.” This program’s objective considers the campus environment and climate through the many aspects of the campus.  It is composed of a multi-constituent advisory committee that “monitors and considers the interpersonal group and intergroup atmosphere on campus.” Essentially, it is a group actively connects with members of the community and promote good values such as campus climate of respect, civility and mutual appreciation through inclusion of both the community and campus.

UCI is constantly making changes and promoting positive images within the community as a whole. For example, in recent news, “UCI leads multi-campus collaboration to reward use of designated drivers.” This program is in collaboration with the RADD College DUI Awareness program. In this program, UCI, along with nine other universities over the last two years, partnered up to preventing drunk driving and present alternative solutions to this problem.

“Students are receptive to the program because we don’t tell them what not to do,” said Doug Evenhart, interim director and alcohol manager at the UCI Health Education Center.

The grant of $451,000 allowed UCI to allow other schools such as UC Davis, University of Southern California, Cal State Sacramento and Fullerton, San Diego State, UC San Diego, the University of San Diego and Cal State San Marcos to participate in this project.

In 2010-2011, many changes occurred as UCI invested money for different projects; the university invested $10 million in capital projects. Even just within the last year, world-renowned speakers such as Dalai Lama, Sir Richard Branson, and Charlize Theron have embraced the campus with their diversity.

Over the next few years, it would be nice to progress to even more diversity in the school.  There is a current 10-year plan that seeks to implement diversity, known as the Focus on Excellence: A Strategy of Academic Development 2005-2015.

There are many sections within this plan, each with emphasis on a particular aspect. It has features of “where we are now” all the way to “where we are going.” In this plan, particularly the section entitled “Strategic Advantages of UCI,” it discusses what UCI offers and what features make it more distinguishable from other universities. For example, in the category of the “Rapid Rise to Distinction,” the features that make UCI distinguished include ranking among the top 50 research universities in the world in the “Academic Rankings of the World Universities;” three Nobel Prizes in the last 10 years (two in chemistry and one in physics); and having the fifth-largest number of undergraduate applications received by a U.S. university.

Additionally, it would be good to keep some of the campus programs such as the LARC tutoring program not be cut out as this is such a valuable program that students value and helps them in many ways.

The underlying issue with a lot of the things the campus needs is the budget. If a higher budget is created, then there is room for endless possibilities for many aspects of the campus like ASUCI. It will allow for more concerts, more festivals, film screenings and speakers. But even with these issues, UCI continues to grow in many areas and continues to promote good programs both on campus and within the community.


Ruhani Sandhu is a second-year public health science major. She can be reached at rksandhu@uci.edu.