Newkirk Alumni Center To Complete Construction

Balmore Ruano | New University

Starting this fall, Anteater Alumni will now have another place to call their own when they come back to visit their alma mater. With the upcoming opening of the Newkirk Alumni Center located at the intersection of Mesa Road and University Drive, past students will soon be greeted with a brand-new, environmentally-friendly building to host meetings, reunions and gatherings and have even more opportunities to engage in alumni-networking.

Construction of the center began in November 2011, thanks to a generous donation from Martha and Jim Newkirk that allowed organizers to embark on the project.

Martha Newkirk received a doctorate in social ecology at UC Irvine in 1981, and she has been an active participant and supporter of the university ever since. She served on the UC Board of Regents as an alumni regent from 1989-1991, was a past president of the UCI Alumni Association and is a trustee of the UCI Foundation, where she is currently involved in several committees. Additionally, Martha and her husband, Jim, created UCI’s Newkirk Center for Science & Society 10 years ago, which brings scientific responses and needs to the surrounding community.

With a deep foundation with UCI, the Newkirks decided to help create a place where alumni could come back and reconnect with the place where they received their education.

The new center will occupy 12,500 square feet, which is about four times larger than the former Phineas Banning Alumni House. The previous center has served the UCI community since 1968, but with the growing population of alumni, a larger and more comprehensive space was needed to meet the needs of former students.

The two-story building will serve as a new venue to campus and community members who want to host on-campus events. There will be a 3,000-square-foot conference room on the first floor, ready to accommodate either business meetings or informal gatherings. There will also be a ground floor café, complete with coffee, tea and pastries, and a separate den with couches and a fireplace.

“We want to evoke Anteater pride here,” Jorge Ancona, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Alumni Relations, said when speaking about the den.

“We will use this space to talk about prominent UCI alumni, and we’re also going to display old tickets to past UCI events. This will be a great first stop when alumni come back.”

The second floor will contain an additional board room, meeting room, mezzanine and office space for employees.

The Newkirk Alumni Center was also built in accordance with the University of California’s policy on sustainable practices.

Different aspects of the center were built to either meet or exceed the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification standards. These requirements will be met in part from the low-flow faucets, Energy Star-rated appliances and ultra-high efficiency dual flush water closets. There are currently four LEED-approved buildings at UCI; the Newkirk Alumni Center will hopefully become the fifth.

Outside of the center, there will also be a mounted bronze Anteater structure, which was donated by the Class of 2012. Alumni and current students alike will be able to see this large emblem of pride either when walking to class from Mesa Court, or when returning back to campus for a visit.

“We are really grateful that the Class of 2012 gave us this gift,” Ancona said. “We hope to truly serve as a gateway for alumni when they come back to campus.”


Check out more photos from the alumni center: