Debbie Daniel ’73 recalls life on campus during a tumultuous, psychedelic era
When Debbie Daniel graduated from UC Irvine in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English, her parents gave her a fitting gift: an electric typewriter. “I went through my entire college career typing everything on a manual,” she says.
Over the years, as students traded typewriters for word processors and then laptop computers, Daniel has stayed active in the campus community. “I’m like the undergraduate who never left,” she jokes.
She’s been a UC Irvine Alumni Association board member for more than 25 years, holding every position, including president. Now she’s been tapped to serve as the alumni representative on the campus’s 50th anniversary committee.
For Daniel and more than 162,000 other UC Irvine alumni, the anniversary offers opportunities to share stories of their college days. Recollections are being captured through various mediums, including the 50th anniversary website (50th.uci.edu) and social media channels (#UCI50); a commemorative coffee table book, UC Irvine: Bright Past, Brilliant Future; and StoryCorps (storycorps.org), the oral history project heard on public radio, which is recording and collecting Anteaters’ stories in its vast archives at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center.
Daniel’s own memories of UC Irvine remain as colorful as a psychedelic Peter Max poster. She arrived on campus as a transfer student in 1969, just four years after it opened.
“UCI was in the middle of a pastureland. We were surrounded by cows,” she says.
To be a student or faculty member in those days was to be an outlier. With only about 600 students in her class, it was a close-knit group.
“There were no Greeks [fraternities or sororities]. We got to know everybody in the dining commons,” Daniel says. “[Founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr.] was always walking around campus, talking to students. We saw him every day. He knew our names; he was like our father.”
Off campus, there was little in the way of entertainment. Across the street at University Center (then Irvine Town Center), Daniel remembers only a 7-Eleven and, for those lucky enough to be over 21, a German beer hall.
“There was a juke box that always played Creedence Clearwater Revival. You could get a little bag of popcorn and a pitcher of beer. That was your social life,” she says.
Still, UC Irvine was far from insulated. The campus drew intellectuals, activists, artists, freethinkers and musicians, all attracted by a new university committed to bold ideas and unencumbered by stuffy Ivy League traditions.
The anti-establishment fervor that had captured a generation pervaded the campus. Students protested against the Vietnam War; they joined in a nationwide shut-down in response to the Kent State University shootings, closing UC Irvine for a day. “Nobody went to class. We were on strike,” Daniel says.
Leading figures in the cultural revolution came to campus to entertain and to teach. Daniel saw Janis Joplin perform in Crawford Hall. “She was smaller than I thought she’d be but very intense,” she recollects.
Daniel took an anthropology class with Carlos Castañeda, described by some as “the godfather of the New Age movement,” and a painting course with artist Ed Moses, who used Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a textbook. “He was trying to get people to think in different ways,” she says.
She even had a class in primal scream therapy, which calls for re-experiencing – and releasing – painful experiences from one’s past. “John Lennon and Yoko were doing it, as were other well-known celebrities. The teachers were from The Primal Institute [in Los Angeles] and very charismatic, but all they did was scream and holler at us that we’d end up like our parents. Every idea you’d assimilated from your family they made fun of,” she recalls.
An adventurous spirit, Daniel interrupted her studies at UC Irvine twice – once to spend a semester at the University of Illinois in 1971 so she could sample life in Chicago and later to take a three-month tour of Europe – before graduating with the class of 1973 in a single ceremony in Aldrich Park. Today’s commencement exercises are spread out over multiple days and times to accommodate more than 6,000 graduates annually.
“The stature of the university has really changed,” she says. “A degree from UC Irvine has grown in assumed value because we’re better known.”
Now a real estate agent, Daniel is working to create a community of alumni who feel connected to campus. She encourages all graduates and friends to join the UCI Alumni Association (alumni.uci.edu) to access the many opportunities and connections available through the Anteater Network.
“I hope alumni who have busy, engaged lives will realize what a resource the university is,” Daniel says. “We all have a responsibility to support the school.”
Robert “Bob” L. Newcomb, founding director of the UC Irvine Center for Statistical Consulting and a 45-year member of the UCI community, died July 10 at the age of 81.
Newcomb received his doctorate in mathematics from UC Santa Barbara. He joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1969 as a social sciences lecturer, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. During that period, he served as acting associate dean of both undergraduate and graduate studies in social sciences.
As a teacher, he introduced the field of statistics to thousands of students. In 1980, he won the UCI Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award for his work in social sciences and education.
In 1996, Newcomb founded the UCI Center for Statistical Consulting, serving as director until 2011. From 2000 to 2010, he also was director of the Biostatistics & Informatics Core of UCI’s General Clinical Research Center. In 2010, Newcomb became director of the biostatistics, epidemiology and research design unit within UCI’s Institute for Clinical & Translational Science, which replaced the GCRC.
He played a critical role in the 2002 creation of the Department of Statistics, which established an annual lecture and graduate fellowship in his honor in 2012.
After he retired, Newcomb’s dedication to his students, UCI and the community continued. He established the Orange County/Long Beach Chapter of the American Statistical Association and served as its founding president. He also continued to teach statistics at UCI, completing his last course several weeks before his passing.
Newcomb’s lifelong commitment to UCI student-athletes is legendary. He founded the UCI men’s volleyball program in 1970 and was head coach through 1975. He was commissioner of the Southern California Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, later renamed the Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, from 1975 to 1992. He helped establish the Men’s Collegiate Volleyball Grants Program in 1988. Newcomb served on the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship Committee from 1989 to 1992, holding the title of chair in 1990, while continuing to mentor student-athletes.
He is survived by his wife, Betty; daughters Jhyl Mumford and Dale Marcikic; son Scott Newcomb; brother David Newcomb; and many loving grandchildren, other relatives, friends, colleagues and students. In lieu of flowers, send donations to the Robert L. Newcomb Graduate Fellowship Fund or the Robert Newcomb Student Award for Men’s Volleyball. More: socsci.uci.edu/node/25962 or ucirvinesports.com/sports/m-volley/2013-14/releases/201407118jb367
James Pitts, a University of California researcher who helped uncover the dangers of air pollution blanketing Greater Los Angeles and who worked tirelessly to clear the air worldwide, died June 19 of natural causes at his Irvine home. He was 93.
“Jim was universally known as an energetic, brilliant, charming and loving man with an unrelenting commitment to improving our environment,” said his wife and fellow chemist, UC Irvine professor Barbara Finlayson-Pitts.
The research carried out by Pitts and his team provided much of the scientific basis for California’s groundbreaking pollution policies and regulations, which were subsequently adopted both nationally and internationally and which led to the dramatic improvement in air quality enjoyed today.
Pitts led efforts to establish the Statewide Air Pollution Research Center at UC Riverside and served as its director for 18 years. He co-authored 380 scientific publications and four books – two on atmospheric chemistry with Finlayson-Pitts that are used worldwide in training future air quality scientists. Pitts was listed among the most highly cited researchers by the Institute for Scientific Information.
In 1994, he joined Finlayson-Pitts at UC Irvine, where, as a research scientist, he mentored at all levels, from professors to undergraduates.
“Jim Pitts was a pioneer in clearing the air of Southern California and keeping it clean, and it has been an honor to get to know him over the past 20 years,” said UC Irvine School of Physical Sciences Dean Kenneth Janda.
Pitts is also survived by his daughters, Linda Lee, Christie Hoffman and Beckie St George; his ex-wife, Nancy; six grandchildren; and their families.
An undergraduate scholarship fund has been set up at UCI in Pitts’ name. To make a donation, post a remembrance or see a retrospective of his life, go to http://ps.uci.edu/memorial/jnpitts.
David Easton, UCI Distinguished Research Professor of political science and former president of the American Political Science Association, died July 19 at the age of 97.
Easton joined the School of Social Sciences faculty in 1982. He was one of the most prominent and cited political scientists during the second half of the 20th century and was best known for his work on the operational structure of political systems and his adaptation of systems theory to political science. Easton was instrumental in getting UCI more involved in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, of which he was vice president in 1985-86. He also helped create exchange relationships between UCI and Beijing’s Peking University, as well as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Although Easton retired from UCI in 1987, he continued teaching until he was more than 90 years old. For nearly a quarter of a century, he taught a seminar required of every UCI political science graduate student. He received the Academic Senate’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Research in 1997 and the 2005-06 University of California systemwide Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award for his research and scholarly activities during retirement.
Since 1997, the American Political Science Association’s organized section on the foundations of political thought has bestowed an annual David Easton Award for “a book that broadens the horizons of contemporary political science.” In 2009, the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics & Morality established a speaker series honoring Easton and his late wife, Sylvia Johnstone, for their commitment to ethics.
Easton is survived by his son, Stephen, a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University; his daughter-in-law, Caroline; and his two grandchildren, Malcolm, who’s completing his doctorate in political science at UC Davis, and Stephanie, his full-time caregiver and companion during the last two years of his life.
Professor Emerita Alison Clarke-Stewart died unexpectedly Feb. 23 at the age of 70. She was a professor of psychology & social behavior at UC Irvine from 1983 until her retirement in 2008 and held the title of research professor at the time of her death.
Clarke-Stewart was a distinguished scholar who made landmark contributions to the field of child development, publishing numerous books and articles on the subject. Her work on such topics as early, out-of-home child care; children’s suggestibility and its implications for their testimony in court; and family relationships – especially the role of fathers in children’s development – is recognized by experts worldwide.
She is survived by her husband, Ross Parke, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UC Riverside; her daughter, Chris Tina Clarke-Stewart; six stepchildren; her sister, Marcia Skaarup, and her family; and legions of friends, colleagues and former students.
Those who wish to honor her memory can contribute to UC Irvine’s Alison Clarke-Stewart Dissertation Research Award in Psychology & Social Behavior at uadv.uci.edu/AlisonClarkeStewart. Donations may also be sent to the attention of Mickey Shaw at: Alison Clarke-Stewart Dissertation Research Award, UC Irvine School of Social Ecology, 5562 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Irvine, CA 92697-7050. Make checks payable to the UCI Foundation.
Alumnus Richard Sudek, a respected scholar and higher education leader who began his career as a technology entrepreneur, has joined UC Irvine as executive director of its Institute for Innovation.
“After a thorough nationwide search, we found the ideal candidate within our alumni ranks,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman, Ph.D. “He’s an outstanding and passionate leader who has devoted his career to empowering entrepreneurs. He’s dedicated to serving not only our university community but our broader region, and in so doing he’ll ensure that UCI remains a central catalyst for innovation and economic development in Orange County.”
Launched in February and funded by the Beall Family Foundation, UCI’s Institute for Innovation is designed to accelerate the transfer of new technologies to the marketplace. The campuswide center integrates research and academic disciplines while coordinating successful school-based entrepreneurial programs to create real-world applications that spur business breakthroughs, enhance economic activity and introduce life-improving discoveries to society.
Sudek has hands-on experience in industry and academia. He has taught at INSEAD in France, the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, and the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. He also has served on advisory committees for Microsoft, IBM, Novell and Cisco.
Amy Wilentz, professor of English and literary journalism, has received a National Book Critics Circle Award for her autobiography Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, a gritty memoir based on years of reporting from Haiti.
Winners were chosen by the nearly 600 critics and editors who make up the NBCC. Wilentz’s latest book has been called “an extraordinarily frank cultural study/memoir that eschews platitudes of both tragedy and hope” by Kirkus Reviews and “intimate, honest, bracingly unsentimental” by The New York Times Book Review.
Wilentz also has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, and the American Academy of Arts & Letters’ Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction. She has written for numerous magazines and is a longtime contributing editor at The Nation.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, UC Irvine Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature, was named a 2014 fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
He was among 204 new fellows and 16 new foreign honorary members elected to AAAS this year. The 234-year-old academy is one of the nation’s most select societies and comprises scholars, scientists and business leaders. Members of the 2014 class include winners of the Nobel Prize and National Medal of Arts. Fellows and foreign honorary members are nominated and elected by current members.
Ngũgĩ, whose name is pronounced “Googy” and means “work,” is a prolific writer of novels, plays and essays, many exploring the harsh sociopolitical conditions of his homeland, Kenya. He came to UCI in 2002 to teach literature and direct the then-new International Center for Writing & Translation. He’s the author of the highly praised Wizard of the Crow, winner of the 2006 California Book Awards gold medal for fiction.
The UCI Foundation retreat — held just days after the campus launched its 50th anniversary celebration with a special commencement featuring President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker — was the occasion for a change of leadership and a new theme: “Changing
Emile Haddad, whose three-year term as chair began June 1, outlined his goals for moving UCI from a bright past to a brilliant future.
- Creating a greater global presence for
- Engaging the community from the perspective of what UCI can do for its regional neighbors
- Taking the lead in public policy formation at the state and national levels
- Expanding the university’s public and private partnerships for innovation
“As we reflect back on the first 50 years of our university, we look to the future with very high expectations and a great amount of enthusiasm,” Haddad said. “The foundation UCI is building on enables it to become one of the top education and research institutions in the world.”
The president and CEO of FivePoint Communities, he has been working with former chairman Dr. Hazem Chehabi to ensure a smooth transition within the 54-member board of trustees. An active supporter of UC Irvine for many years, Haddad joined the foundation board in 2008. He also serves on the School of Social Ecology Dean’s Leadership Council and The Paul Merage School of Business’ Center for Real Estate advisory board.
The retreat planning committee — Chehabi, Haddad, Julie Hill, Jim Mazzo and Dean Yoost -— crafted a meaningful and memorable program that included keynote speaker Dewitt Jones, a world-renowned photographer, author and film director. Jones shared his passion for transforming the ordinary into “Extraordinary Visions” — the theme of his presentation, which was beautifully illustrated with photos from his personal archives and work for National Geographic.
Mazzo, operating partner at Versant Ventures, moderated a panel of experts that provided a vision of the future as it relates to technology, resource management, technology transfer, biological medicine and health. The “Industry Leader Forum: Future Trends & Impacts” panel featured Henry Samueli, Ph.D., co-founder, board chairman and chief technical officer of Broadcom Corp.; Stanton Rowe, corporate vice president and chief scientific officer at Edwards Lifesciences; and James J. Peterson, board chairman and CEO at Microsemi Corp.
UC Irvine placed 32nd for educational value among the nation’s top 665 four-year universities in Money magazine’s recent Best Colleges survey results.
UCI ranks ninth among all public universities and second in a special subcategory called “value added,” which rated each college on the economic and academic profile of its student body and the mix of majors.
“We’re proud that Money magazine has recognized UCI not just as ‘one of the world’s most respected research institutions’ but also as among the very best in providing tremendous value to students,” said interim Chancellor Howard Gillman, Ph.D. “Combining outstanding academics with outstanding value is one of the great challenges facing American higher education, and the fact that we are identified as a national leader is a testament to the great work of our faculty, students, staff and supporters.”
The magazine praised UCI for its ability to help its diverse undergraduate population thrive. “Although about 40 percent of students come from low-income families,” evaluators said, “86 percent of freshmen go on to graduate – 15 percentage points more than the average for schools with a similar student body.”