the UC History Digital Archives

the UC History Digital Archives

Search the Irvine collection
Home > General History > The Ten Campuses > Irvine >


About UC Irvine
:: Historical Overview
:: Administrative Officers

Academic Units
:: Colleges and Schools
:: Academic Departments
:: Graduate Division
:: Institutes and Research Centers

Student Life
:: Student Housing
:: Student Publications
:: Student Services
:: Traditions

Libraries and the Arts
:: Cultural Programs
:: Libraries

Additional Resources
:: Related Links
:: Bibliography

:: Sources

print-friendly format

Irvine: Historical Overview

The history of the Irvine campus begins in the early 1950s when the Regents concluded from University-wide enrollment projections that three new campuses must be in operation by 1970, one of which should be located in the east Los Angeles-Orange County area. Twenty-three locations in this area were examined and in March, 1959, a site on the Irvine Ranch, a few miles inland from Newport Beach, was tentatively selected by the Regents.

The Campus
Situated at the center of a large urbanizing area and connected with metropolitan Los Angeles by a network of freeways, the site was on gently rolling land, with an inspiring outlook over the Santa Ana Basin. Among principal reasons for its choice was the great potential for development of an integrated and interrelated campus and community, an opportunity provided through mutual agreement with a single owner of the surrounding land.

After intensive studies by William Pereira and Associates, architects and master planners, the site was determined to be feasible according to criteria established by the Regents, faculty, and planning committees, and a master plan of land use for the area was agreed upon in principle. In July, 1960, the Irvine Company offered 1,000 acres as a gift and the deed was recorded on January 20, 1961. The Regents purchased an additional 510 acres adjacent to the original site in January, 1964. Coordinated planning of the ranch, the university community, and the campus was achieved by the University and the Irvine Company, hiring Pereira and Associates as master planners.

to top

Administrative and Academic Development
With the selection of Daniel G. Aldrich, Jr., as first chancellor on January 19, 1962, Irvine was cast in the role of carrying forward the spirit of the land grant colleges and universities in meeting the needs of a new era.

As a soil scientist with the University for 20 years, Chancellor Aldrich was imbued with the land grant spirit and practice through his association with the University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Agricultural Extension. He was serving as University dean of agriculture at the time of his appointment as chancellor. An Academic Advisory Committee to assist in the development of the Irvine program was appointed in April, 1963. Its members were John S. Galbraith, chairman, William F. Kennedy, Robert F. Gleckner, Carl H. Eckart and James M. Gillies. H. T. Swedenberg later was appointed chairman to replace Galbraith when the latter was named as chancellor at San Diego.

A "Provisional Academic Plan for the Irvine Campus" was issued in April, 1963, with the assistance of Ivan Hinderaker, vice-chancellor--academic affairs, who became chancellor at Riverside in July, 1964. It outlined a core academic organization consisting of a College of Arts, Letters and Sciences, with Divisions of Social Sciences, Humanities, Fine Arts, Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences, and a Department of Physical Education. Also proposed at the outset were a School of Engineering, a Graduate School of Administration, and an Institute of Environmental Planning, which in 1965 was broadened into the Public Policy Research Organization. University Extension also became an integral part of the academic plan. Irvine's first catalog, issued in July, 1965, followed this outline. A statement of the "Irvine Approach," a consensus of the faculty on the philosophy of the academic program, was issued informally in July, 1965 by Jack W. Peltason, who replaced Hinderaker as vice-chancellor.

to top

The First Buildings
Pereira and Associates' "Long Range Development Plan" for the Irvine campus presented in June, 1963 a physical scheme centered about a large central park, with plazas for each academic discipline radiating from an inner circle of buildings. An administrative plaza linked the campus to the adjacent town center to be developed on the Irvine property. Initial structures were the Library-Administration, the Commons, the Humanities-Social Science, the Fine Arts, and the Natural Science Buildings, and the Science Lecture Hall--all forming part of the inner circle--a Central (utilities) Plant, Campus Hall (including a gymnasium-auditorium and student health facilities) and Mesa Court, a complex of ten residence halls accommodating 500 single students. Dedication of the site was held at impressive ceremonies on June 20, 1964, with President Lyndon B. Johnson as principal speaker.

Pending completion of initial major structures, the staff first was located in the old Irvine Ranch home, then moved late in 1962, with the step-up of recruitment, to interim offices at the Service-Research Center. The Research Annex was established at the center in 1964 to accommodate research by faculty members who were involved in program planning prior to opening of the central campus facilities. The UCI Computer Facility was established in temporary quarters in June, 1965, with the announced intention of making Irvine a model for computerization of university campuses. All except campus maintenance and storehouse operations moved to the central campus in late summer, 1965.

to top

The Campus Opens
Marking the opening of the campus, the first student-faculty convocation was held in Campus Hall on September 26, 1965. A faculty of 114 members, 99 of whom held doctorates, included 26 professors, 15 associate professors, and 56 assistant professors. Enrollment for the fall quarter, 1965 was 1,589 students, including 1,449 undergraduates, 140 postgraduates, among whom were 19 foreign students. Graduate programs were offered in each of the college divisions and the School of Engineering. The library contained approximately 100,000 volumes at opening and planned for 400,000 by 1970.

to top

Early Campus Life
Student activities at the outset concentrated on establishing a student government, an honor system, and extracurricular organizations. Intramural and recreational programs and intercollegiate teams were initiated in water polo, swimming, basketball, crew, sailing, tennis, and golf, with other major and minor sports to be added later. The Arts and Lectures Committee and University Extension also offered a wide variety of important cultural and topical programs for students, faculty, staff, and the public.

Community support for the campus and its programs showed early strength and was channeled into several organizations formed during 1964-65 under the leadership of H. B. Atwood, public affairs officer. These were: Friends of the University, a general support group directed by business, professional, labor, and civic leaders, with the stated purpose "to unite the communities and the University in the development of a great intellectual and cultural center. . ."; Friends of the UCI Library, which early developed an extensive membership with the purpose of helping to create a "distinguished reference and research center" and rendered other services; UCI Town and Gown, composed of community social leaders and wives of faculty members; UCI Public Relations Advisory Council, composed of public relations executives of the area; and the Big I Boosters, organized to assist in support of intercollegiate and intramural sports programs. Alumni of other campuses of the University also exhibited strong interest through membership in UCI support groups and attendance at the annual All University Picnic which quickly became an Irvine tradition.

to top

Future Directions
Established as a major University campus, Irvine was expected to grow rapidly both in size and extent of its programs, with enrollment planned to reach 27,500 by 1990. Commitments for proposals gained rapid support in the mid-1960s. The Department of Health Education and Welfare contributed $1.5 million toward construction of a $9 million physical science building scheduled for completion in 1968, which was to include an atomic reactor and a low temperature laboratory. Other major buildings planned for completion during 1969 were Library Unit II, Engineering Unit I, and Fine Arts Unit I.

to top


the UC History Digital Archives

Copyright © 1999-2005
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Last updated 06/18/04.