University of California, Irvine


Section 1

On a brilliant day in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson stepped from a helicopter into an undeveloped Irvine Ranch meadow and dedicated the land that would become UCI. The founding administration and faculty established traditions of rigorous academics, progressive research, interdisciplinary teaching and independent thinking. From the classrooms and labs, businesses were born, jobs created and discoveries made. 

Today, UCI anchors Orange County as a world renowned research institution that serves more than 36,000 students and has a $5 billion economic impact on the region. Take a look at some of our historical milestones that have defined UCI’s identity as a powerhouse for knowledge, innovation and public service.

Section 2

  1. 1959

    Irvine Site Selected

    A 1000-acre spot called the San Joaquin foothills was sold by the Irvine Company for $1 to the University of California. Pereira pronounced it “majestic.” Donald Cameron, an urban planner who worked for Pereira, described it as “one of the great bargains of all time.”

  2. 1962

    Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. Appointed Founding Chancellor

    The first three times Clark Kerr asked, Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. said no. But he slowly warmed to the idea of starting a campus from scratch. On December 6, 1961, Kerr asked a third time, and Aldrich finally said yes. The path for the rest of Aldrich’s life was set: He was a founding chancellor.

  3. 1965

    Campus Opens

    UCI opens with founding academic divisions of biological sciences, engineering, fine arts, humanities, physical sciences and social science, and graduate school in administration (later management). Only 1,589 were enrolled.
    Unlike most colleges, UCI was not named after an existing city. The city of Irvine did not become incorporated until 1971, six years after the creation of the campus.

  4. Anteater Chosen as Mascot

    The idea for the Anteater mascot came from students Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst, two water polo players, who were inspired by the anteater in the Johnny Hart comic strip “B.C.” The Anteater was elected as the official UCI mascot on Nov. 30, 1965.

  5. 1966

    UCI Graduates Inaugural Class

    UCI’s first graduating class comprised just 14 students. A commencement dinner took place June 25, 1966, in what is now known as the Libraries Gateway Study Center.
    Ten bachelor's degrees, three master's degrees and one doctorate were awarded.

  6. 1967

    California College of Medicine Approved as UCI College of Medicine

    In 1967, UC Irvine acquired the California College of Medicine (originally founded in 1896 as the Pacific Sanitarium & School of Osteopathy), which later became the School of Medicine. Today the school houses 26 departments and employs more than 550 faculty members.

  7. 1968

    UCI Forms Alumni Association

    Recognizing a need to connect new alumni with the budding campus, UCI launched its Alumni Association in 1968. At the time, UCI had an alumni base of approximately 600, including those with bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate and medical degrees. Today, UCI’s alumni community is made up of more than 180,000.

  8. 1974

    Cross-Cultural Center Established

    Ten years after opening its doors to its first cohort of students, UCI established the Cross-Cultural Center. The first of its kind in the University of California system, the CCC aims to create a socially just campus by fostering cultural identities and providing opportunities for community engagement.

  9. 1975

    UCI Extension Registers 26,000 Enrollments

    Extension registered 26,000 enrollments during 1974-75, making it one of the largest such programs in the state.
    The first UCI course, “The Chancellor’s Lecture Series,” was offered by University Extension in 1962, three years before the campus opened for classes.

  10. 1979

    UCI Enrolls 10,000+ Students

    By fall quarter of 1979, UCI reached new heights in student enrollment. More than 10,000 students from across the state and around the world chose UCI to earn their degrees.

  11. 1981

    UCI Hosts First Homecoming

    UCI’s first official Homecoming celebration took place in conjunction with the grand opening of the campus’s student center in January 1981. Festivities included coronation of a king and queen, a basketball game and dance.

  12. 1993

    Roy Fielding Works as the Principal Author of HTTP

    As a doctoral student, Roy Fielding, ’88, M.S. ’93, Ph.D. ’00, worked as the principle author of hypertext transfer protocol, changing the way computer users transfer documents and browse the Web.

  13. 1995

    Frederick Reines and F. Sherwood Rowland Receive Nobel Prizes

    UCI Professors Frederick Reines and F. Sherwood Rowland received Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry, respectively.

  14. 1996

    Campus Named to Association of American Universities

    In 1996, UCI became the youngest university to join the prestigious Association of American Universities, a group of 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. AAU members are consistently recognized for excellence in academic research and scholarship.

  15. 2004

    Irwin Rose Receives Nobel Prize

    Professor of physiology & biophysics Irwin Rose was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, or how the body’s cellular building blocks facilitate the breakdown of old and damaged proteins.

  16. 2010

    UCI Students Break Guinness World Record

    During UCI’s annual Welcome Week festivities in 2010, UCI students broke the Guinness world record for largest dodgeball game. With 1,745 participants, the campus took the title previously held by the University of Alberta. Since that initial victory, UCI has continued to hold world record attempts during Welcome Week, with activities such as a giant pillow fight, four-square dodgeball, capture the flag and water blaster battle.

  17. 2014

    President Barack Obama Speaks at Commencement Ceremony

    President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address on Saturday, June 14, 2014, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the campus’s dedication by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Obama gave kudos to UCI for being “ahead of the curve”.

  18. Campus Enrollment Breaks 30,000 Students

    In the fall of 2014, UCI enrollment hit an all-time high of 30,000 students.

  19. 2015

    Men’s Basketball Makes First March Madness Appearance

    In 2015, UCI men’s basketball team made history with its first Big West Conference Tournament championship and first March Madness appearance. The No. 13-seeded Anteaters took on the No. 4-seeded University of Louisville in the NCAA second round on March 20, but fell to the Cardinals 57-55. Read more here.

  20. Vicki Ruiz Receives National Humanities Medal

    On Sept. 10, 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Distinguished Professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies Vicki Ruiz with the National Humanities Medal. Read more here.

  21. 2016

    Mya Le Thai Creates Super Rechargeable Battery

    Chemistry doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai unlocked the secret to creating batteries with the capability of being recharged hundreds of thousands of times, propelling the development of commercial batteries with long-lasting lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.

  22. 2017

    UCI Named Hispanic-Serving Institution

    The U.S. Department of Education named UCI a Hispanic-serving institution for 2017-18, meaning that fully one-quarter of undergraduates identify as Latino and that half of all students receive financial aid. The designation increases the campus’s ability to secure funding for student support services, laboratory equipment, financial aid, faculty development and other resources.


For a more comprehensive list of events, visit our timeline here.

To find more information about university's history, visit the 50th Anniversary website and the Special Collections & Archives below.