For 40 years, Bren has been the champion and steward of the Irvine Ranch Master Plan, which has created the world’s most acclaimed master-planned community environment. His steady hand in guiding the Master Plan has resulted in immeasurable benefits for those who live, work, play and go to school in the communities the Irvine Company has developed. The all-new City of Irvine, for instance, is known as America’s safest big city, its public schools rank among the best in California, and large swaths of land in and around the city have been permanently preserved as open space and parklands.
Bren has provided significant contributions to public K-12 education and major universities to enhance academic opportunities. A special focus of Bren’s has been a commitment to fill the State’s funding gap in providing enrichment programs in science, art and music. He passionately believes exposure to these subjects adds immeasurably to students’ overall education and success in life.
Bren’s educational and research philanthropy includes funding over 60 endowed distinguished professor chairs at the University of California and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He also founded one of the nation’s first graduate-level environmental schools, the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, at University of California, Santa Barbara. The Bren School is recognized around the world as the preeminent institution for innovative research and thought leaders for addressing global environmental issues.
Under Bren’s leadership and vision, Irvine Company established the largest urban open space network in the United States by dedicating 57,500 acres of land as permanently preserved open space and parklands. The result is a remarkable legacy of parks, trails and natural open spaces held in public hands and available for discovery and enjoyment by Californians today, tomorrow and forever.
“His action guarantees that the rocky outcroppings, deep canyons, fern grottoes and even a rare grove of Tecate cypress trees will go undisturbed in perpetuity.” — Sunset Magazine
“His contributions to the University of California system to the advancement of knowledge and the improvement of our quality of life have been nothing short of extraordinary.” — Mary Rita Cooke Greenwood, former UC provost
“Donald Bren has not only transformed the urban landscape of California, he has transformed the intellectual landscape of the California Institute of Technology.” — Caltech University President Thomas Rosenbaum