UCI’s 50th Anniversary

UCI_50th_Final_OL_210What: Oct. 4, 2015, marked 50 years since UC Irvine’s first day of classes. In the months and years leading up to the milestone, UCI planned a series of celebratory activities. Beginning September 2011 – 50 months prior to October 2015 – UCI designated monthly a regularly scheduled activity as a “50 to 50” event. These highlighted events exemplify the UCI experience, and, when the event details are reviewed at the conclusion of the anniversary celebration, provide a comprehensive overview of what makes UCI one of the world’s great public research universities. A special signature fete, the Festival of Discovery, was held Oct. 3, 2015, to shine the brightest light possible on UCI, while offering a warm welcome to the Orange County community.

When: The official anniversary celebration began with UCI’s 2014 Commencement festivities in June, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the campus site dedication. President Lyndon B. Johnson provided the keynote address at the 1964 dedication, an event attended by numerous state and UC dignitaries, as well as thousands of community well-wishers. The June 14, 2014, celebration – which took place at Angel Stadium of Anaheim – was highlighted by a keynote address by President Barack Obama. The 50th anniversary celebration continued through the 2015-16 academic year. Academic symposia, the UCI Medal Awards ceremony, Homecoming, Celebrate UCI, Lauds & Laurels and the annual staff appreciation picnic were among the many events that marked the occasion. The two-year celebration concludes with the June 2016 Commencement.

Who: The celebration aimed to touch as wide an audience as possible, with primary focus on the UCI family – alumni, students (and their parents), faculty, staff and community supporters – and the Orange County community (including prospective students and donors). Therefore the planning committee and attendant subcommittees comprised representatives for each of the constituencies. The planners also welcomed your comments and suggestions for how best to mark this milestone.

25 Responses to UCI’s 50th Anniversary

  1. ichsan akbar says:

    I will love to celebrate 50 years of UCI in 2015 i look further more to the Photo exhibition this years 🙂

  2. Brigitte Louise Labrentz, M.A.'68 says:

    Of course, I’ll be there to celebrate these 50 years with you, UCI! I share these 50 with you. It was Professor Lindberg who in 1965 enticed me away from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, to sample Graduate School at UCI in its tender beginnings. I had a fabulous three years teaching as a T.A., proud to be the entry graduate studies class among UCI’s founders, proud to carry my UCI M.A. to the Stanford University for my Ph.D. Congratulations UCI! You and I matured in these 50 years:
    I in my professional career and YOU, UCI, built a fabulous, inimitable reputation!
    Looking forward to raising a toast to us both!

  3. Jack C. Lockhart says:

    I started working as a staff member at UCI on February 1, 1968.

    Most stories you read about UCI focus on its academic excellence, and rightly so. However, I offer a different perspective about the first 10 years of UCI. The story I have created is offered from a staff member’s point of view. My viewpoint or story is/was how UCI was transformed from rolling hills and grassland to a first class university. So, said another way: University staff contributed a great deal in this miraculous journey.

    I’d love the opportunity to tell my story either in person or in print. Thanks.

  4. Theresa Blasingame says:

    It was very exciting working in the Department of Biological Chemistry when Professor Irwin Rose received the Nobel Prize in 2004. The local and International Press visiting the campus and the campus celebrations! All staff, faculty, lab assitants, administrators were overjoyed to share this wonderful accomplishment for Professor Rose!

  5. Steve Capps '69 says:

    If you are out there, let’s see your photo collection!
    – Glenn Kageyama
    – Alan Albright
    – Jim Sullivan
    All great photographers. All Loma. All there for the first day October 4, 1965!

  6. Please include the history of Mesa Court dorms. Including the use of Spanish names such as Otero, Sierra, Bahia, and Cumbre. Mariposa was one of the last all female dorms and Sierra had an outstanding dorm class called “moral development in a just community. Mesa Court was the hub of social interaction for many UCI students.

  7. Teri Ramirez says:

    Please be sure to include the history of sororities and fraternities at UCI. The Greek system and its traditions go back to the mid 1800’s, and we are very fortunate to have these groups contributing to our campus in so many positive ways. As a member of Gamma Phi Beta (one of the first three sororities at UCI), I would love to see all Greek letter organizations represented in this book.

  8. Mary Ann Foster says:

    I began UCI as a Freshman in 1966. I thought we were the first Freshman class.

    • Marie (Khury) Richman says:

      No, you were in the send Freshman class and probably graduated the same year as my husband and me (1970)!

    • Marie (Khury) Richman says:

      typ-o . . . I meant the SECOND freshman class . . .

  9. David Schetter says:

    The Butler Street Blues Band would like to offer to perform for the celebration. The band was part of the fabric of UCI for over thirty years and performed for the Ray Charles and Tony Bennett concerts in campus park. The band is made up of UCI faculty, staff and a student as follows: Jim McGaugh (sax and clarinet), exec. vice chancellor (ret.); Dan Stokols (keyboards), dean of Social Ecology (ret.); Dave Schetter (sax), assistant vice chancellor for Research (ret.) and a UCI management school graduate; Henry Pontell (bass), Social Ecology faculty: Ken Meese (guitar), Engineering faculty; Gedina (vocals), history graduate. While travel for some of the members will be required, the band would be pleased to perform more than once during the ceremonies if desired. We just need to work on venue, scheduling and PA equipment. Looking forward to participating. Dave Schetter, cell phone: 949.230.5134

  10. John Kramer says:

    As an engineering student in the 1960s, I recall doing my homework calculations by hand, occasionally relying on my trusty slide rule for the more complicated ones. The pocket calculator didn’t exist yet. When we graduated in 1969, we were twelve years away from the introduction of the first primitive PC, so of course there was no Internet for years to come. Yet in spite of this lack of technology, we all got a solid education that led to productive careers. I worked for seven years at a local aerospace company, where I designed flight line test equipment, production test equipment for thick film hybrid circuits, and a state-of-the-art mirror positioning servo system. The first-ever laser guided missile had my digital guidance system on board, and it hit the target dead center on its first test flight. I owe all my successes to the solid education I got at UCI.

    John Kramer, BSEE, class of 1969

  11. Cathy Lawhon says:

    Till K. Kahrs, ’79 sent me this email and I thought I’d share. Any more stories out there? Send them my way.

    I lived in the Middle Earth dorms for 3 straight years starting in the fall of 1975, and had seen then founding chancellor of UCI, Dan Aldrich, walking around campus quite often as I was going to various classes. He was a tall imposing figure, so I generally avoided eye contact as I saw him walking, thinking for sure he might have heard about some late-night antics in the dorms.

    The last time I saw Chancellor Dan, as he was often called, I was walking to class again during my junior year, so it was probably around late 1978, and I had just passed the Social Science Tower. Up ahead I spotted Chancellor Aldrich, who was walking briskly toward me, dressed impeccably in a suit as usual. Just as I was ready to look downward to avoid eye contact, he bent over and picked up a burrito wrapper that was blowing around in the wind, and quickly put it in his pocket. Chancellor Aldrich smiled at me and I gave him a nod and a smile back.

    I’ll never forget that story, it was just a short moment in time, but it clearly indicated to me what a classy guy he was and how much ‘Chancellor Dan’ truly loved UC Irvine!

  12. Robert E Halter says:

    I am really proud to be a returning student from over 34 years ago. Having lived in southern California my entire life and first attending school here at UCI in fall of ’74
    I would love to contribute to the ceremonies planned for 2015. Also I would suggest that planning and/or artwork for commemorative items, that may have a significant and needed impact for future funds for UCI and UC System be conducted or co-conducted by the students at UCI (or all of UC schools) maybe by a contest. Beyond T-shirts and caps, I am hoping to purchase a commemorative silver coin and even a possible memory/”time capsule” pod that would re-open for my children in 50 more years. I have networked with manufactures and am a precision tool and mold maker that would be eager to assist in anyway I can. Thanks Robert Halter

    • Cathy Lawhon says:

      So glad you are interested in commemorative items. We do have a subcommittee on this topic, and representation from students on our committee. Hope you will find some things of interest. Stay tuned for more information.

  13. PeterA says:


  14. investir says:

    I would love to be a UCI student just for the 50th anniversary!
    It is a very good thing that you plan all this already.
    I hope that it will be a big success!
    Good luck!

    • Cathy Lawhon says:

      Thanks Kim. The hard thing is deciding among so many worthy projects and ideas. We have a really creative team.

  15. RUI SHI says:

    I hope I can become a new UCI student. I can’t wait to take part in the celebration, 50 years of UCI in 2015!

  16. Luis says:

    I hope the past staff and academic employees of UCI will be able to celebrate with us. Photo exhibition of the campus will be scheduled with a museum theme. Certain location on campus will be pointed out as groundbreaking events. All UCI events will be focused on 50th from incoming freshman, graduating, staff appreciation etc. Can we have a parade? i think that will be cool.

  17. Roberta Laible says:

    As a retiree (30 years), will there be special events for those of us who committed time and energy to the education and service mission of UCI. Will there be an event at the UCI picnic or ?? Staff, as well as alumni, should be recognized for their contribution.


    • Cathy Lawhon says:

      Hi Roberta,
      Yes, Ann DiPlacito’s Events Subcommittee is planning a Founders Day celebration that will include students, faculty and staff. Many exhibits, lectures, performances and other activities are in the works, all of which will be open to the entire campus community — including retirees — and many will be be open to the general public, as well. I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to write back with suggestions and questions.

  18. Babs Sandeen says:

    It will be wonderful to celebrate 50 years of UCI in 2015! I’m so glad that the campus is organizing well in advance to be able to maximize opportunities and engage the broadest number of alumni and friends possible. You have a great committee put together for this effort, and I’m sure you’re already bouncing around ideas like: Fifty ways UCI has changed the world; Profiles of 50 interesting alumni; asking alumni to write stories about their UCI experience in 50 words; producing a UCI anniversary table-top book; having reunions and reunion-giving activities throughout the year+ celebration; giving t-shirts to all of the students at UCI during the 50th anniversary year so that they can show their pride and remember the landmark occasion; and so on and so forth. It will be lots of fun, and I can’t wait to take part in the celebration! Zot zot zot! – Babs Sandeen ’84.

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