UCSB Announces Additional Commitment from Donald Bren

Orange County Business Leader and Philanthropist Donald Bren Expands His Support for UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. New Commitment Brings Bren’s Support for the School to $20 Million

Date: July 28, 2004
Contacts: Eileen Conrad (805) 893-8726; Jennifer Hieger (949) 720-2681
Santa Barbara, Calif. The Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara has received an additional, major financial commitment from Orange County business leader and philanthropist Donald Bren.

A unique, interdisciplinary graduate program, the Bren School was named in honor of Bren in 1997, following his pledge to provide $15 million in support for the program. Now Bren has added $5 million more to his commitment, bringing the total to $20 million.

The Bren School, which offers master’s degrees and Ph.D.s, was established in 1991. In addition to educating highly qualified research scientists and environmental management professionals, the school’s mission is to play a leading role in researching environmental issues and in identifying, preventing, and solving environmental problems of the 21st century.

The school is quickly gaining important national recognition for its interdisciplinary approach, which embraces natural and social sciences as well as business and law. “The Bren School is one of a very few schools charting new ground, especially in offering interdisciplinary training at the intersection of environmental science and management,” said the report of an External Review Committee that formally assessed the school this year. “Demand for graduates of the Bren School, and of similar programs at Yale and Duke, is very high and likely to increase.”

The Bren funds, administered through the Donald Bren Foundation, are being used to establish 11 endowments to support nine faculty chairs, a distinguished visiting professor program, and fellowships for students pursuing master’s degrees. This support is designed to enhance and strengthen the school’s core interdisciplinary programs, personnel, and special activities.

“This additional commitment to the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara will help attract and retain the very best professors in this critically important field,” Bren said. “I strongly believe that the quality of education and research that any institution provides is squarely rooted in the excellence of its faculty. That’s why I am focusing more and more of my philanthropic support on the creation of endowed chairs, which will enable the university to bring to the Bren School world-class scholars and thinkers.

“The addition of such appointments to the superb faculty at this school,” he added, “will help it firmly establish itself as the most important center anywhere for teaching and research in environmental science and management.”

Bren is chairman of The Irvine Company, a privately held real estate investment company best known for the balanced, sustainable, quality communities it has created on The Irvine Ranch in Orange County, Calif. The University of California has been the beneficiary of Bren’s personal philanthropy and that of his foundation for many years. Among many other significant benefactions, Bren has endowed more professorships than any other single donor in the university’s history. In recognition of his philanthropic leadership, he was awarded the University of California Presidential Medal in June at a UC Irvine ceremony to mark the naming of that campus’s School of Information and Computer Sciences in his honor. The Presidential Medal is awarded in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the UC system or the community of learning.

“From the outset, Donald Bren’s vision for developing a peerless, world-leading institution offering an interdisciplinary program of environmental science, management, and policy has been a tremendous source of inspiration and leadership for the Bren School,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “His continuing involvement and that of his foundation in this important program will certainly add to its momentum and its visibility. We are extremely grateful for this enhanced commitment and for our continued partnership with the Bren Foundation.”

The school is housed in Donald Bren Hall, named in recognition’s of Bren’s support for the academic program. The building, a remarkable and prize-winning example of sustainable construction, opened in April 2002 with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Award one of only two awarded nationally that year for being the greenest laboratory building in America. The building is the physical embodiment of the school’s environmental philosophy. Bren Hall is being used as both example and model in the UC Regents’ newly adopted Green Building Policy, which applies to all 10 UC campuses statewide.

Funds from the Bren Foundation are supporting the establishment of an endowed chair for the dean of the Bren School, two endowed chairs in environmental law, two in corporate environmental management, and several interdisciplinary professorships. In addition, the Bren funds will support a program of distinguished visiting professorships aimed at bringing to UCSB internationally recognized scholars for teaching and research residencies at the school. Such scholars will enhance the visibility and stature of the school as well as strengthen its curricular and academic ties to other institutions and programs.

Dennis J. Aigner, dean of UCSB’s Bren School, said the additional $5 million was a major step in the school’s development.

“We are at a critical juncture in the evolution of man’s relationship to the environment, and it will take people of unusual skill to manage the multifaceted nature of the issues we must confront and the problems we must solve in order to fulfill our role as stewards of the planet,” said Aigner. “It is the goal of the Bren School to produce leaders who will teach and inspire us, and this new commitment serves to strengthen both our resolve and our ability to provide such people with the very best training in an exceptional learning and research environment.”

About the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
The Bren School at UCSB plays a leading role in researching environmental issues, identifying and solving environmental problems, and training research scientists and environmental management professionals.

The Regents of the University of California established the School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara in 1991, in response to a report issued by the State of California defining an increasing need for trained environmental professionals. The school was designed to train graduate students in rigorous, interdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem-solving. A master’s program was developed to offer courses in natural and social sciences, as well as ecology, management, and risk assessment.

The school accepted its first students into the professional master’s degree program in the fall of 1996, and graduated its first class of 20 students in June 1998. For the 2003-04 academic year, 105 master’s students were enrolled. In 1999, the school established an intercampus MBA emphasis in Corporate Environmental Management. The program, which now enrolls 25 students, integrates natural and social sciences with business and law.

In December 1997, the school was formally named the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management in honor of a major grant from the Donald Bren Foundation.

The school inaugurated its Ph.D. program in the fall 1998, and graduated its first three doctoral students in the spring of 2002. Five more have since achieved their doctorates, and currently 33 Ph.D. students are enrolled12 of them participants in the Economics and Environmental Science program, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. Enrollment is expected to average approximately 120 master’s students and 50 doctoral students.

More information:

About Donald Bren and the Donald Bren Foundation
For more than 40 years, Donald Bren, chairman of the board of directors of The Irvine Company, has been deeply involved in California real estate as a master planner and a long-term investor. Bren is known as a leader and innovator within the real estate industry, one of the first to combine well-designed homes with such amenities as parks and substantial open space, schools, employment centers and shopping centers to create balanced master-planned communities.

Bren’s vision and expertise are guiding the creation of the nation’s premier planned community on The Irvine Ranch in central Orange County 93,000 acres stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the inland mountains of the Cleveland National Forest.

Privately and through his Donald Bren Foundation, The Irvine Company and related entities, Donald Bren has directed more than $60 million to support UC programs, with the majority going to the Irvine and Santa Barbara campuses. In June, UC Irvine named its School of Information and Computer Sciences in honor of Bren, who last December made a $20 million gift to the program. The funds will support, among other things, the establishment of 10 endowed chairs.

In a statement issued when Bren was awarded the UC Presidential Medal in June, UC President Robert Dynes said: “His passionate philanthropy and commitment to educational excellence have helped strengthen the university. For well over two decades, Mr. Bren’s focus on the creation of endowment funds to support faculty chairs has helped bring to the University of California some of the best researchers and scholars in the nation and the world.”

Bren’s commitment to quality education extends beyond UC to include significant support for Caltech, Chapman University, and Marine Corps University. In addition, over the past 20 years, The Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation collectively have committed approximately $66 million to enhance K-12 education in Orange County.

Born in Los Angeles, Bren was raised there and in Newport Beach. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from the University of Washington, where he also pursued graduate studies in business. Subsequently, he served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has been chairman of The Irvine Company since 1983.