UCI Building Dedicated to Bren

Six-story campus hall named for Irvine Co. chairman will house information and computer science programs.

DEDICATION: Above, balloons fill the stairwell as guests tour the new Donald Bren Hall at UC Irvine on Wednesday. Below, Bren during the ceremony.
DEDICATION: Above, balloons fill the stairwell as guests tour the new Donald Bren Hall at UC Irvine on Wednesday. Below, Bren during the ceremony.

UC IRVINE — Donald Bren was already in celebration mode when he visited campus Wednesday for the dedication of a new building in his name. The night before, the Irvine Co. chairman had stayed up late watching UCI’s baseball team defeat Arizona State University, and he told the crowd that cheering the team on had resulted in his hoarse voice.

“I don’t usually sound like ‘The Godfather,’ ” he said, moments before donning a UCI baseball cap and shouting, “Go ‘Eaters!”

With UCI still reeling from Tuesday’s come-from-behind victory, the campus celebrated another milestone Wednesday morning, as administrators and guests gathered to officially dedicate Donald Bren Hall. The six-story building, which broke ground almost exactly three years ago, provides a new home to UCI’s information and computer science programs.

At 11:30 a.m., Bren, Chancellor Michael Drake and others gathered inside the new building for opening remarks.

Debra Richardson, the dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, said the state-of-the-art structure would help UCI attract top faculty from around the world. The information and computer science department — better known as ICS — launched at UCI in 1968.

“ICS has been a success story for the last 39 years,” Richardson said. “Next year, we’ll mark our 40th year. Today, I venture to say that we’ve only just begun.”

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the building opened for tours. The Bren Hall, which covers more than 90,000 square feet, includes research labs, faculty offices, classrooms and more. Bren, who wielded a shovel at the groundbreaking in 2004, said he marveled — as always — at watching a building evolve from scratch.

“As most of you know, at my core, I’m a community builder,” he said. “It’s been my lifelong passion.”

Michael Miller
Daily Pilot

Donald Bren Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Donald Bren Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

TIC Chairman Donald Bren has been elected a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences — a major recognition of his long history of philanthropic contributions to education and open space preservation and access.

Fellows are elected from throughout the world through a highly competitive process, and are chosen for their significant and lasting contributions to their disciplines and society. Mr. Bren was elected in the category of Business, Corporate and Philanthropic Leadership –- Private Sector.

Click here for the alphabetized list of Fellows

Click here for the Academy’s full news release

Founded in 1780, the Academy is one of the oldest learned societies in the country and is unique in its breadth and scope. Throughout its history, it has gathered individuals with diverse interests and perspectives to participate in meetings, studies and projects focusing on critical social and scholarly issues.

Considered one of America’s most generous philanthropists, Mr. Bren through the years has contributed, through The Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation, more than $200 million to public schools on The Irvine Ranch and to institutions of higher education. His gifts range from major contributions to local K-12 schools for enrichment programs, after-school programs for low-income children, and scholarship awards, to funding more than 50 endowed chairs for distinguished faculty at institutions for higher learning. At the University of California, Mr. Bren has contributed more to support endowed chairs than any other single donor in UC’s history.

UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, in particular, have benefited from Mr. Bren’s generosity.

In a news release, UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang congratulated Mr. Bren and noted “his extraordinary achievements, leadership, philanthropy, and vision in the arts and sciences.” UCSB is home to the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

A strong conservationist, Mr. Bren for many years has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve environmentally sensitive land in Southern California, a commitment that was recognized in 2006 with the designation of The Irvine Ranch’s protected parks and open spaces as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. He has committed $50 million for the long-term management, preservation and restoration of the natural resources on the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve®, now being carried out by the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve Trust, which Mr. Bren created. Its mission also is to increase public access to the lands.

In 2006, BusinessWeek magazine ranked Mr. Bren 8th on its annual list of “The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists” in the country.

Mr. Bren was elected a Fellow alongside some of the world’s most eminent scientists, scholars, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders, including recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel and Academy Awards. The newly elected Fellows also include UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake.


Irvine Ranch Acreage Gets Landmark Status

Irvine Ranch acreage gets landmark status
The governor is among those at a ceremony to announce the national designation, shared by Diamond Head and the La Brea Tar Pits.

David Reyes
Los Angeles Times

October 11, 2006

From left: Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren; National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger walk through Crystal Cove State Park.
From left: Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren; National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger walk through Crystal Cove State Park.

A 37,000-acre swath of Orange County that stretches from the ocean to the foothills — property that once was part of historic Irvine Ranch — was designated Tuesday a national landmark.

National Park Service Director Fran P. Mainella said the designation was in recognition of one of the best examples of preserved habitats and biological and geological characteristics in the country.

The landmark designation was part of a brief ceremony held at Crystal Cove State Park and attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine), State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren, Mainella and others.

Other areas similarly designated include Diamond Head in Hawaii, the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego County.

At 37,000 acres, the Irvine Ranch National Natural Landmark is one of the largest areas to earn the designation.

The rolling land includes canyons filled with coastal sage scrub, grasslands, and oak woodlands that naturalists say emphasize Southern California’s subtle, natural beauty.

During the evaluation leading to the designation, scientists noted that the area’s natural resources included nearly 80 million years of geologic history “preserved, uninterrupted like a virtual encyclopedia of stratigraphy,” according to Michael Soukup with the National Park Service.

Stratigraphy is the study of rock layers and layering.

The land has many owners, including the state, the county, Irvine, the Irvine Co. and the Nature Conservancy.

To qualify under the landmark criteria, a proposed site must contain some of the best examples of a natural region’s biological and geological features, said Stephen Gibbons, the park service natural landmarks coordinator.

Although national parks are the country’s most treasured assets, there are many other places with unique resources of national significance that won’t ever be protected as parks, Gibbons said.

“I see areas that may not be national-park caliber,” he said. “Nevertheless, they’re great examples of our national heritage. This natural landmark is one of them.”

In his remarks, Schwarzenegger said that Tuesday’s event “celebrates another area of our state that can be enjoyed for generations.”

He also singled Bren out for his “conservation efforts & and generosity.”

The new landmark boundaries are part of the 50,000 acre Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, a nonprofit organization that Bren formed last year to help protect and restore natural resources.

At the time, Bren donated $20 million to support the trust.

Bren said that walking and hiking the ranch’s wilderness lands had made him reemphasize “my dream” that Irvine Ranch would be known “for what has been preserved and protected here.”

The land included in the new designation has been preserved as parks and open space by the various landowners.

It includes Limestone and Fremont canyons, Peters Canyon Regional Park near Orange, Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Bommer Canyon in Irvine.

Area Set Aside as Landmark

From shining sea at Crystal Cove to majestic Saddleback Mountain, 37,000 acres given national designation.

From left: Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren; National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger walk through Crystal Cove State Park.
From left: Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren; National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger walk through Crystal Cove State Park.

CRYSTAL COVE — About 37,000 acres of Irvine Ranch land, extending from Crystal Cove to the foothills of Saddleback Mountain, was recognized Tuesday as the country’s newest National Natural Landmark.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, Rep. John Campbell — who gave Schwarzenegger the new title of “conservationator” — and others gathered Tuesday morning in a parking lot on a bluff in Crystal Cove State Park, thanking Irvine Co. Chairman Don Bren for his help facilitating the process.

“We’re celebrating more than protecting the environment; we’re also celebrating generosity,” Schwarzenegger said.

The land, which is owned by Orange County, the city of Irvine, the Irvine Co., California State Parks and the Nature Conservancy, was subject to scientific evaluation by 10 geology and biology experts to assess its physical and geological significance. The area received the natural landmark designation because of the presence of fossils — which date back 80 million years — and a diverse animal and plant population that includes some endangered species and others unique to the area.

“My dream is that the Irvine Ranch will be known and celebrated just for what has been preserved and protected here & as the Irvine Ranch is known for the outstanding quality of life communities that have been built here,” said Don Bren in a prepared statement to a crowd of supporters and media.

Bren said Tuesday’s announcement marked his dreams of conserving the land coming true.

The maintenance of the land continues to be the responsibility of the land owners and paid for through the Irvine Co.’s $50-million Irvine Ranch Land Reserve Trust.

“The $50-million trust is for stewardship and educational programs and things of that nature,” said Dan Young, executive vice president of the Irvine Co.

Not since 1987 has land owned by a public-private partnership been given the designation.

“We hope with this kind of leadership happening, maybe others in our country will be so inspired to nominate land,” Mainella said after the formal ceremony.

Fewer than 600 sites are designated as a National Natural Landmark and the Irvine Ranch land joins places such as Oahu’s Diamond Head, and California’s Torrey Pines State Park, Anza Borrego Desert and Mt. Shasta in its designation.

Along with Crystal Cove, other areas recognized by the designation include Limestone and Fremont canyons, Peters Canyon Regional Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, the open space between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and Bommer Canyon.

The program was started to encourage land owners to protect natural areas to promote scientific advancement and education in the areas. Nominated sites must undergo an independent scientific evaluation.

Amanda Pennington
Daily Pilot

Irvine Co. Gives $1 Million for Santa Ana School Programs

Irvine Company commits $20 million to Irvine schools.

The Irvine Co. handed out a gift of $1 million Monday for after-school tutoring, sports and homework help for some of Orange County’s neediest students.

Dan Young, executive vice president of the Irvine Co., attended a ceremony at Madison Elementary School to give the donation to THINK Together, a nonprofit group that provides after-school services at schools in Santa Ana and other cities.

“Through this gift, we hope to invest in the children in Santa Ana,” said Young, who grew up in Santa Ana and served as mayor several years ago. “We also hope other private companies will use this as an example to donate to schools.”

THINK Together has offered after-school programs to students in Santa Ana, Orange, Tustin and Costa Mesa for the past nine years. The Irvine Co. donation will benefit only students from Santa Ana, Young said.

The donation would allow the group to extend after-school programs to 40 of the district’s 50 schools, benefiting more than 10,000 students. The donation should keep the program funded for the next 10 years, officials said.

Since 2000, the Irvine Co. has given more than $80 million to public education.

In Irvine Unified, donations by the developer have helped that district keep class sizes small, funded music and art programs, and helped prevent budget deficits.

Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Al Mijares said the funding would help students in his district perform better academically.

“This will help extend the school day for many of our students,” Mijares said. “They will continue the process of learning even after the typical school day ends.”

Students in Santa Ana, the state’s fifth-largest school district, often struggle with standardized tests. Many of the district’s schools rank near the bottom in Orange County on state test scores. About 75 percent of students come from low-income families and 60 percent are still learning English.

Those were some of the reasons the Irvine Co. selected Santa Ana for the donation, Young said.

Madison Elementary fifth-grader George Samano has already participated in after-school programs provided by THINK Together and credited the program for his solid grades.

“If I wasn’t in this program, I would just be at home all day eating junk food and watching television,” he said.

Giving to schools
Since 2000, the Irvine Co. has given more than $80 million to education. Here are a few of the developer’s previous donations:

  • $20 million for music and arts programs in Irvine Unified, 2006
  • $20 million to UC Irvine, 2000-06
  • $60,000 to the Highland Teen Center in Orange, 2003
  • $1.9 million for science, music and arts in Irvine Unified, 2000

Fermin Leal
Orange County Register

Irvine Co. to Donate $20 Million to Schools

The Irvine Co. said Monday it would provide $20 million over the next 10 years to fund fine arts, music and science programs for fourth- through sixth-graders in the Irvine Unified School District.

The money will be in addition to the $25 million pledged by the Newport Beach developer to Irvine schools in 2000, officials said.

“We think it’s an important investment to acknowledge the importance of these programs in providing a comprehensive quality education in the school district,” said Michael LeBlanc, a company senior vice president.

Dean Waldfogel, the school district’s superintendent, expressed delight.”We’re very excited,” he said. “This will allow us to maintain the program at its current level.”

The program, which sends arts, music and science specialists into classes twice a week at a cost of about $2 million a year, has been funded primarily by the nonprofit Irvine Public Schools Foundation in conjunction with the school district, Waldfogel said.

With that money now guaranteed by the Irvine Co., the foundation will be free to focus on raising money for better healthcare on school campuses, said Tim Shaw, the group’s chief executive.

“Our immediate goal,” Shaw said, “is to lower the ratio from 4,000 students to 2,500 students per nurse on our campuses.”

By David Haldane
Los Angeles Times


UCI Names Computer Sciences School After Donald Bren

UC Irvine Renames Computer Sciences School in Honor of Donald Bren

In recognition of a major gift from TIC Chairman Donald Bren, UC Irvine announced today that it is renaming its new computer science school the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. The school’s renaming – to be celebrated at a public event at the campus next Wednesday, June 9 – recognizes a $20 million gift from Mr. Bren to the computer sciences school last December. Mr. Bren’s gift equaled the largest gift ever to UCI and marked another example of the chairman’s support of public education on The Irvine Ranch.

“This school naming is a fitting and enduring tribute to Mr. Bren,” UCI Chancellor Ralph Cicerone said. “His transformational gift is helping to create a national model for information and computer science research and education, and further strengthens UC Irvine’s position among the nation’s best research universities.” Chancellor Cicerone will participate in next week’s ceremony along with Mr. Bren, UC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs M.R.C. Greenwood, and Debra Richardson, dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

“I am honored to have my name and support associated with the first computer science school in the UC system,” Mr. Bren said. “It is my hope and expectation that the school – and what it produces in the way of human capital and technological innovation – will be the force behind future breakthroughs in education, science and business that will lift our standard of living and our quality of life.”

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences is the first independent computer science school within the UC system and one of the fastest-growing programs of its kind in the nation. Elevated from department to school status in December 2002, information and computer sciences enrollment at UCI has grown by more than 125 percent since 1998, to more than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students. With experts in areas ranging from embedded computer systems and networking to bioinformatics and the social impacts of computing, the school currently ranks among the top of all public university computer science graduate programs. To learn more about the school, click http://www.ics.uci.edu/.

At the luncheon ceremony, ground will be broken for the school’s new six-story, 138,000-square-foot research and classroom facility. The building is being financed by the March 2004 passage of Proposition 55 and the passage in 2002 of its companion initiative, Proposition 47, which authorized funds to build, repair and improve the state’s public education facilities. The building is scheduled for completion in 2006 and will be named Bren Hall.

Mr. Bren’s $20 million gift, administered through the Donald Bren Foundation, provides more than $18 million to create 10 endowed chairs for distinguished faculty, an unprecedented number in a single gift to UCI. It also enables the school to compete for the world’s top computer scientists. The balance of the gift creates an endowed fund for excellence, enabling the school to develop and advance interdisciplinary and university-industry collaborations emphasizing new research and enhanced technology transfer efforts.

Mr. Bren has donated more than $40 million to UCI since 1984, and has endowed more permanent faculty chairs than anyone in the campus’s history. In 1988, he established the Donald Bren Endowment to help UCI successfully compete for the nation’s most distinguished faculty and achieve its goal of becoming one of the country’s premier research universities.

See further New Beginnings information on UCI’s website.