O.C.’s Donald quietly trumps The Donald

There is that Donald.

You know, Trump, the loud New York real estate mogul running for president.

Then there is the Orange County Donald. Donald Bren, the quiet Irvine Co. land baron.

These are two immensely successful businessman who distinctly created billion-dollar fortunes in the same property trade that’s sunk many of their competitors.

Trump, 69, to put it mildly, is brash. His projects are literally coated in gold and stamped with his name. All the while, he’s also mastered the media.

Bren, 83, prefers subtle hues and Mediterranean designs. He’s no recluse, but let’s just say he enjoys his privacy.

But words do not equate to wealth – as was made abundantly clear last week with the release of the 2015 Forbes 400, an annual tally of America’s wealthiest people.

Bren, who’s been on the Forbes list every year since its inception in 1982, was ranked as the 30th wealthiest American – and owner of the nation’s biggest personal real estate fortune – with a net worth of $15.2 billion.

Forbes estimated Trump’s wealth at $4.5 billion, the 121st biggest fortune. A figure he strongly disagreed with; Trump insists he’s worth $10 billion.

Oddly, almost nobody in this ranking enjoys the spotlight this list creates, as it can draw unwanted attention. Few in this circle dare to publicly question the business magazine’s math. Bren, as is typical, declined to comment.

And then there’s Trump.

He’s sparred with Forbes editors for decades, as he’s done with others who dare to quantify his wealth, and understate it, in his mind. (Bloomberg News, for what it’s worth, estimates Trump’s worth at $2.9 billion.) And while no one replied to the Register’s request for comment, Trump did take time out from his campaign to vilify Forbes for undercounting his wealth by at least half.

“They don’t really know my assets very well,” Trump told the CNBC business news network last week.

But either using Forbes’ guesstimates or Trump’s widely quoted own words, my trusty spreadsheet shows that in the past three decades Trump’s fortune has not grown much more than a key real estate investment benchmark, the NAREIT Composite Index. Trump and the index have each grown roughly twentyfold since 1982.

Compare that to Bren’s performance: His estimated wealth has ballooned fortyfold in the past 33 years.

Turns out that a large bet on California beat a mix of New York real estate, casinos and assorted other businesses with a celebrity’s name slapped on them.


Timing is everything. And both Donalds entered real estate at seemingly perfect moments.

Bren, Los Angeles bred and schooled at the University of Washington, started building Southern California homes in the 1960s, just as the regional economy was ready to blossom into one of the world’s great business climates.

In 1977, he was part of an investor group that acquired Irvine Co., which controlled 93,000 acres of Orange County. He bought out most of his partners in 1983, became sole owner in 1996, and then used his vast land holdings and financial acumen to craft a housing, retail and office-space empire.

Trump grew up near my home in the New York borough of Queens and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School – my alma mater, too.

After college, he joined his father’s apartment business in New York’s outer boroughs. It’s always nice to have a rich dad when you’re starting out, but it’s never been clear how much financial help Donald Trump got from his father Fred Trump, who died in 1999.

The younger Trump nudged the family business to expand its focus into office projects in Manhattan. The city was a financial and civic mess in the 1970s when Trump was learning his craft.

That turmoil provided a huge opportunity.

The storylines of the two Donalds first crossed when Forbes initially tallied America’s wealthiest in 1982. Both Donalds made the cut.

Bren’s wealth was pegged at $350 million back then. Trump’s net worth was estimated at $200 million; his father’s fortune made the list, too, also at $200 million. And as became the annual ritual, Trump disagreed: He chose to value himself at $500 million.

The 1980s were very good for real estate. Once sky-high interest rates pruned painfully steep inflation rates, the economy took off.

Bren’s Irvine Co. was a major benefactor of rapid growth in Orange County. The developer swiftly built on land he owned within the city master plan for Irvine.

Meanwhile, Trump was building and cultivating his public persona. He opened the landmark Trump Tower mixed-use project in Manhattan and wrote the best-selling “The Art of the Deal.” He also joined the rush to build casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., where gambling had just been legalized.

By 1988, Forbes had Trump’s net worth at $1 billion – and inexplicably upped it to $1.7 billion the next year.

It was later learned that Trump was missing payments on some of his debts in 1989. Bren was worth $1.85 billion that year.


In the following decade, the building boom petered out, leaving excess supply. The savings and loan industry collapse took away a major financial support. And a recession early in the decade was the last thing the industry needed.

Trump suffered immensely as his attempt to diversify backfired. Two of his casinos in Atlantic City ended up in bankruptcy.

Trump’s biggest mistake was giving personal guarantees on some of his company debts. That nearly cost him his financial empire. He was forced to beg for cash from relatives to keep his business operations in the early 1990s, as the assets that he held on to were saddled with debt.

If anything earned him bragging rights as a master dealmaker, it was Trump’s ability to escape this disaster with enough business control left to prosper once again. By 1999, Forbes was valuing his empire at $1.7 billion.

Far less is known about what challenges Bren faced during this time. His Southern California base suffered as a sluggish economy digested major job losses from reduced defense budgets.

One move by Bren may have shown temporary weakness: He sold a portion of his apartment empire in 1993 on Wall Street, but spent $500 million to return it to his total control in 1999.

Forbes cut Bren’s estimated wealth by 40 percent in two years, to $1.1 billion in 1991. Bren’s fortune was not valued above the 1989 level until it hit $2 billion in 1994.

The regional economic volatility persuaded Bren to spread out his portfolio. As real estate rebounded with the state economy, the Irvine Co. started to make significant investments in other high-growth California markets. Notably San Diego and Silicon Valley.

All told, both men had to be happy they survived the decade. Trump, by Forbes’ accounting, was worth $1.6 billion in 1999 – more or less unchanged in 10 years. (Of course, he claimed he was really worth $4.5 billion!)

Bren’s worth hit $3.2 billion in 1999, up 73 percent in the decade – equal to the gain in the overall industry, according to the NAREIT index.


Real estate always surprises, and the start of this century has proved no exception.

Overall economic weakness pushed interest rates to historic lows and numerous uncertainties made commercial real estate look like a desirable investment option.

Yet aggressive lending practices overheated many property sectors by the middle of the 2000s, and the resulting collapse helped create an unprecedented global recession.

Trump and Bren both dodged much of the pain.

Trump ramped up efforts to sell his brand, an intangible asset he claims is worth $3 billion. (Nobody else thinks so.)

His biggest success outside of real estate was “The Apprentice,” the popular TV show that featured guests competing for a spot as a Trump protege. Those who failed were eliminated with Trump’s signature “You’re fired” send-off.

Trump begun to license his name heavily to other developers, allowing him to profit without taking much of the development risk. His name was tied to several controversial projects in which he had little or no ownership interest.

Bren continued to transform his out-of-town bets, highlighted by trophy towers acquired in Chicago and New York City.

In Orange County, the Irvine Co. invested big in apartments and its stunning early return to post-recession homebuilding certainly made Bren hundreds of millions of dollars. Plus, he’s recently built three office towers in Orange County, a building boom seen in only a handful of cities nationwide.

Overall, those strategies have worked out well for the two Donalds.

Bren’s fortune, by Forbes’ math, has grown to $15.2 billion – a 375 percent gain since 1999, and more than twice the industry’s overall 155 percent growth. Trump, by Forbes’ math, is now worth $4.5 billion – up 181 percent in 15 years.

As you might expect, Trump disagrees. His campaign filings suggest he’s worth $8.7 billion. He tells numerous people his worth is more like $10 billion.

But Trump can’t have it both ways. If he says he’s worth $10 billion now, that’s exactly what he was saying in 2008, too. So has this net worth gone nowhere in seven years while the industry has essentially doubled?

To me, it’s all noise. Trump has created a huge, real estate-based fortune. Why he chooses to boast and argue about his finances is beyond me.

I prefer quiet wealth. Like Bren, who’d never say what I will: Financially, he’s kicked that other Donald’s rear end.

Contact the writer: jlansner@ocregister.com

Disneyland raises annual pass prices, introduces $1,000 pass, and discontinues Premium pass

ANAHEIM– Disney’s top-level yearly passholders will certainly need to spend greater than $1,000 if they wish to visit Disneyland as well as Disney California Adventure anytime of the year.

Disneyland raised its costs for lower-tier yearly passes on Sunday by as long as $60, highest-tier bi-coastal pass good for check outs for Walt Disney Globe and Disneyland by $300, and also did away with the no-blackout, $779 Costs Yearly Ticket.

Instead, the park is offering 2 brand-new high-level passes– the Disney Trademark Plus, which is $1,049 without black-out days, as well as the Disney Trademark for $849, which is good for visits for concerning 350 days, omitting choose days in the wintertime vacation.

Both passes included added advantages such as parking, discounts for eating as well as goods and also a brand-new PhotoPass that enables passholders limitless digital downloads of pictures taken of them meeting characters, walking the park as well as on rides.

Omitted days for the Signature pass are both weeks around Xmas as well as New Year, which is often the theme park’s busiest time of the year. Disneyland has closed its gates sometimes to regulate overflowing groups.

Present Costs passholders will certainly be able to use their pass until it ends, yet they will certainly not have the option to revive. Monthly settlement choices are still offered for California homeowners.

Disney on its website today likewise overhauled costs for yearly passes at Walt Disney World. The Disney Trademark Platinum And also masquerade sees to all 4 Disney Globe style parks as well as theme park without black out dates is $829.

“Along with our continued financial investment in the visitor experience and also the expansion of our parks, our brand-new selection of annual passes will certainly aid us take care of strong demand as well as continue to provide a first-rate experience, while providing even more selections for guests to select the pass that best meets their needs,” claimed Suzi Brown, a Disneyland spokesperson.

The rise follows The Walt Disney Co. previously this summertime explored in an online study a periodic tiered rates framework based upon as needed, which some call rise prices. The amusement park– commemorating its 60th anniversary– is experiencing record attendance and is moving on with plans to produce a “Star Wars”-themed land.

“We need to consider ways to spread out our presence throughout the year so we could accommodate as needed as well as avoid rupturing at the joints,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek told the Wall surface Road Journal.

Disneyland authorities recently announced a number of destinations will shut– some permanently, some for even more compared to a year– starting Jan. 10, to make area for the 14-acre “Celebrity Wars” land that will certainly be integrateded the northern component of Frontierland as well as nearby backstage areas.

Greater than 16.7 million individuals checked out Disneyland as well as one more 8.7 million went to Disney California Journey in 2014, baseding on The Themed Enjoyment Organization, a trade team that represents members of the amusement park market.

The most recent price boost especially targets Disneyland’s annual passholders, a core base that several unofficial Disney blog site sites estimate at 1 million. Some have guessed the current ticket increases are a much-needed way to reduce the huge groups that takes place at Disneyland during some weekends as well as high-demand winter seasons.

Brown claimed given that 2001– when Disney The golden state Adventure opened– the number of passholders have boosted by 250 percent. She did not reveal the number of annual passholders Disneyland has.

This is the second time this year Disneyland raised costs for annual passes. In February, Disney increased rates throughout the board by $3 for one-day, one-park tickets– now $99 a ticket– and also increased some yearly go by 11 percent.

The new Deluxe pass, with some Saturday as well as peak-holiday-period blackouts, went up $50, from $549 to $599. Southern California passes, which are only available for revivals, boosted from $389 to $459. The most affordable pass– Southern California Select– went from $299 to $329.

Parking prices at the Disneyland Resort additionally changed.

Revival rates for yearly passholders with the yearly parking add-on went up from $169 to $199. Motif park auto parking boosted by $1, from $17 to $18. Midtown Disney will currently only offer two hours of complimentary car parking, with an extra 2 hours with recognition from a dining establishment or flick. The per hour price changed from $6 to $12.

Contact the author: 714-704-3764 or jpimentel@ocregister.com!.?.! or follow on Twitter @OCDisney

Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

Sony Pictures

Just go back to becoming Robin

Those of us who have been waiting forever for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to make a musical now have the next best thing: In Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk, this breezy Puck of an actor plays high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who walked the space between the World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974—a quarter-mile above the ground. Gordon-Levitt moves like a natural: When his Petit finally gets to take that famous aerial stroll—picking his way along that impossibly narrow cable in soft, barely there leather slippers that wouldn’t snap a twig in the forest—he’s both fawn and faun, sure of his place in nature and the universe. In its last half at least, the film is a dazzling piece of work, particularly in 3-D; even so, its most luminous effect is an actor. It could have, maybe should have, been called Something In the Way He Moves.

You should be forewarned that the first half of The Walk—covering Petit’s early years in Paris as a wirewalker-in-training and detailing his crazy-passionate plan to traverse the air between the twin towers, which were still under construction at the time—is beleaguered by whimsy, so let’s get that part over with: Petit unicycling through Paris! Petit juggling! Petit learning the highs and lows of wirewalking from Ben Kingsley’s Czech-émigré acrobat, Papa Rudy! Petit meeting Annie, the cutie-pie street singer who will become his girlfriend! (She’s played by Charlotte Le Bon, delicate as a macaron and with about as much bite.) Even during the snoozy parts, Zemeckis uses 3-D effects cleverly: At home in Paris, Petit, working out what he would come to call “le coup,” balances a little paper man on a string stretched between two wine bottles—the image pops in front of us, though the earnest delight and undiluted optimism on Gordon-Levitt’s face is the real pleasure.

Yet all of that is just preamble to the great part of The Walk, which begins when Petit arrives in New York with a three-person crew: Clément Sibony’s dashing and passionate photographer Jean-Louis, César Domboy’s charming acrophobic Jean-François, and loyal girlfriend Annie. Stateside, Petit picks up a few other accomplices, most notably James Badge Dale’s swaggering, French-speaking J.P., and proceeds to fine-tune his plan, which involves figuring out a way to run a cable between the towers without being detected by police or building officials.

Takashi Seida

Sony Pictures


The Walk was directed by Robert Zemeckis; written by Christopher Browne and Robert Zemeckis, based on the book To Reach the Clouds by Philippe Petit; and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz and Steve Valentine.

If you’ve seen James Marsh’s extraordinary 2008 documentary Man On Wire, you already know how Petit did this, as well as how ingenious his solution was. But The Walk isn’t superfluous just because Man on Wire already exists; if anything, the two are fine companion pieces, each filling in tiles of different texture and color in the mosaic of Petit’s story. Zemeckis’ approach is admittedly a little weird in places: The Walk is framed by sequences in which Gordon-Levitt’s Petit, perched up high on the Statue of Liberty, right near the torch and with the twin towers gleaming in the background, addresses the camera directly in ze kind of French accent Americans love to make fun of. Gordon-Levitt is spry and casual enough to make it work, but it’s still a little corny; I sometimes wonder, longingly, where the director of sharply funny pictures such as Used Cars and Death Becomes Her has gone.

But if any director knows his way around 3-D, it’s Zemeckis: He has been working out the kinks in this mode of filmmaking for years, and even if he had to torture us with The Polar Express in the process, The Walk (almost) makes up for it. He comes through in the clutch, beautifully dramatizing both the preparation process and, ultimately, the walk itself. Petit performed his “coup” early on the morning of Aug. 7, 1974, having laid the groundwork the night before: We watch as he and his cohorts smuggle the necessary equipment up to the towers’ roofs—the milky nighttime light renders the whole scene otherworldly. Zemeckis details, with fascinating precision, the mechanics of stretching that cable—this isn’t just a film about dreaming big dreams, but about working out 1,000 little problems along the way.

When Gordon-Levitt’s Petit finally steps onto that cable, the world below—a dream version of 1970s New York, when crime stopped for at least a few minutes and people’s polyester clothes actually looked sort of okay—drops away, leaving only air and clouds and a guy so light on his feet it seems he could almost blow away. But he’s really incredibly sturdy and tensile. At one point, Petit kneels on the cable, saluting the wire, his audience and these two ugly-beauty buildings. A little later, he takes a break by stretching along the cable on his back, as though a cat on a windowsill. Zemeckis’ 3-D maneuvering (plus Dariusz Wolski’s camerawork) makes us feel suspended, too. Gordon-Levitt, playing a man who’s executing the most dangerous feat of his life, radiates a kind of Zen joy.

Zemeckis ends The Walk with an elegy to the World Trade Center that some will find corny. We’ve all seen enough hypersentimental twin-tower images, often flanked by soft-focus American-flag imagery, to last 11 lifetimes. In New York, their absence is actually an unerasable presence, no matter how many new skyscrapers spring up around their airspace. When Gordon-Levitt’s Petit speaks of them, it’s with the tenderness you’d use in reflecting on a lost lover. One little French guy’s dream of stringing a cable between these two boxy, unloved wonders and—good God!—walking it is part of what the twin towers were and are. They’re ghost buildings, dissolved into the very air of New York—we still breathe it in.

As UC Irvine turns 50 here’s a look back at the UC system

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A half century smart: 50th anniversary celebrated at UC Irvine

IRVINE – Six buried bodies prompted UC Irvine to be built where it is today.

Five decades ago, there was another candidate for a University of California campus – on the slopes of Spyglass Hill in Corona del Mar, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But the parcel, owned by The Irvine Co., was slated to become a cemetery. And the cemetery developer made sure to keep it that way.

“He went out and found six bodies and buried them on the site,” says Hal Moore, a UCI professor emeritus who has researched and collected stories about the university.

“If it weren’t for that move, we could have been UC Newport Beach.”

Today, the alternative site — a sprawling 1,475 acres in Irvine — is one of the top public universities in the country.

Since holding its first classes exactly 50 years ago tomorrow, UC Irvine has produced, among other things, more than 150,000 graduates, thousands of research projects, a strong reputation for everything from biotech to public planning to law and literature, and three winners of the Nobel Prize.

The school, which opened with 1,589 students and 119 faculty members, has grown to over 32,000 students and 1,376 faculty members. It regularly gets high marks by groups as diverse as US News and World Report and Forbes and the U.S. Department of Education as one of the better values in American education.

Last year, 88,792 undergraduate students applied to attend UC Irvine.

“All of you dared to dream about how this campus might realize its promise and possibility,” said Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for students affairs, during a Founder’s Day celebration this week.

“Today, with the celebration of 50 years, it’s pretty clear … that dream has come to fruition.”


California’s population was booming in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the University of California needed to expand. Leaders of the system looked to the The Irvine Co.’s vast Orange County holdings as a place to add a campus.

But they faced a hurdle. Bylaws of the James Irvine Foundation, which had a controlling interest, included a rule against donations to tax-supported institutions, groups such as the University of California.

So, in 1960, an Irvine heir, Joan Irvine Burt, stepped in, according to a new book, “UC Irvine: Bright Past, Brilliant Future.”

To get around the gift-giving restriction to public institutions, the first 1,000 acres would be sold and not gifted to the state.

The cost? One dollar.

Four years later, on June 20, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson flew in for the dedication.

When it opened a year later, the campus was dirt and more dirt, a moonscape punctuated by roaming bison and cattle.

Architect William Pereira designed early campus buildings in the brutalist style, designs that would help build his reputation as an icon of mid-century American architecture. His work at UCI is stark, futuristic and unabashed in its exposure of concrete. Other architects that have designed buildings at UCI include Frank Gehry, Eric Owen Ross and Robert Venturi.

The campus has drawn the eye of a couple generations of Hollywood directors. Movies as diverse as “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” “Poltergeist” and “Ocean’s Eleven” have used UCI as a shooting location.

Pereira also layed out the campus in concentric rings, with a park, Aldrich Park, at its center. A series of tunnels was constructed to house electricity conduits.

Campus lore suggested the design and the tunnels was all part of a grand scheme to thwart — or survive — ‘60s-era campus protests.

“The legend that grew up around this, which is nonsense, is that the tunnels were there for the faculty in case there was a revolution,” said Moore, the former dean and chemistry professor who has explored and written about the campus history.

There were protests at UCI, from the ‘60s to the present day, but none as violent as what transpired on many other campuses.

“We wanted to be different from UCLA and Berkeley in particular,” recalled Michael Grayston one of the university’s first year students.

“Most of us, not just because we were from Orange County, we did not want to be seen as rabble-rousers,” added Grayston, a retired research scientist living in Irvine.

“We wanted to be known as an academic group.”

To some in Orange County in the mid-1960s, the university was an unwelcomed bastion of liberalism.

“We were called communists and (told) the campus was a hotbed of communism,” said Liz Aldrich Toomey, a former vice chancellor and daughter of the university’s first chancellor, Daniel G. Aldrich Jr.


Over the decades, the school grew in tandem with Orange County.

As agricultural land became housing and commercial developments, UC Irvine, which opened with eight buildings, has grown to include about 500.

The school also has grown in academic diversity.

The school’s Nobel winners have been in hard sciences; F. Sherwood (Sherry) Rowland (chemistry) and Frederick Reines (physics) won the award in chemistry in 1995, and Irwin A. Rose won for chemistry in 2004.

Some of UCI’s better-known graduates are writers, such as Pulitzer Prize winners Richard Ford (class of ’70) and Michael Chabon (class of ‘87), and renowned poet Yusef Komunyakaa, (class of ‘80).

“It was kind of a writer’s paradise with amazing profs, peers and a structure that let everyone be equally supported,” author Aimee Margot Bender said in an e-mail.

Bender wrote her first book, “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt,” while at UCI in the 1990s. She said her time in the Master of Fine Arts writing program “absolutely impacted” her career.

UC Irvine has had a medical school almost since it started, acquiring the former California College of Medicine in 1965 and eventually renaming it the UCI Medical School. It has schools of engineering, nursing, pharmacy and business, among others.

In 2009, UCI Law opened, with an emphasis on hands-on learning, interdisciplinary study and public service. This year it was ranked the 30th best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

“The Law School has no ideology,” founding Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said in an email.

“We have liberal and conservative students and faculty. Some of our largest donors are conservative; some are liberal.”

One thing UCI doesn’t have — football.

But UCI does have a vibrant athletic department. The school has (or had) high-ranking teams in sports as diverse as baseball, soccer, track, swimming, water polo and volleyball. In all, 37 UCI students and nine coaches have competed in the Olympics, winning six gold medals. This year, UCI’s basketball team played in its first NCAA tournament.

Still, the lack of football can make it tricky for recruiters.

“The reality is that football is fun, and sometimes that is part of what students think of as their college experience,” said UCI’s baseball coach, Mike Gillespie

“(But) there is no excuse for us not attracting good players,” he added. “We have a lot to sell.”


The school’s growth hasn’t been without tumult.

In 1995, The Orange County Register reported that UCI fertility doctors transferred eggs from women who underwent procedures for reproductive purposes and, without their consent, implanted that genetic material in other women, resulting in the birth of more than a dozen babies.

The fertility business was largely unregulated, and it was not then a crime to swap eggs.

But patients filed more than 150 civil lawsuits and the university paid out settlements of more than $27 million. An audit also found that nearly $1 million was missing and three doctors who oversaw the program, including one who was tenured in the University of California system, battled criminal charges for years.

Two other major UCI scandals: misplacing cadavers and selling cadaver body parts without consent, and running an organ transplant program that turned away organs that could have saved lives.

Cathy Lawhon, a UCI spokeswoman, said the school has established policies to make sure similar actions “are not repeated.”

“Today, a new generation of strong leaders work with physicians, nurses and staff to maintain a culture of safety and ensure that patients receive excellent care and ethical practices are followed,” Lawhon said.

Teresa Valerio Parrot is the founder of TVP Communications, a Colorado and DC-based crisis management communications company said institutions can come back from such scandals.

The keys to doing that, she said, are rebuilding trust and meeting their obligations.

“The reality is that bad things happen at great institutions and even the strongest of universities can have individuals among their ranks with less than admirable intentions,” Valerio Parrot wrote via email.


Last year, UCI convinced another sitting president to give a speech.

But the graduates Barack Obama addressed during the school’s commencement at Anaheim Stadium in June, 2014, looked very different than the mostly white crowd who attended LBJ’s speech in 1964.

More than half of UCI’s undergraduates are of Asian ethnicity and about a quarter are Latino.

They also are economically diverse; more than half of the undergraduates at UCI in 2014 were the first in their families to attend a four-year university.

“I’m a first generation student,” said Andres Cruz, a senior studying pharmaceutical science. Cruz began attending programs sponsored by UCI when he was in middle school and later as a student at Garden Grove High School.

In those earlier UCI programs, Cruz said: “They told us we could go to college and become doctors and engineers. That opened my eyes.”

Today, when UC Irvine celebrates its 50th birthday with a daylong free event, Cruz and his friends plan to attend.

The celebration will showcase not only the university’s history but the innovations taking place on campus, through demonstrations and interactive experiences.

“I’m really excited about it,” Cruz said. “I want to learn more about UCI’s history.”

And there will be cake.


June 20, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicates the campus.

Oct. 4, 1965: First day of class; UCI has 1,589 students.

June 25, 1966: First commencement with 14 graduates.

1969: Men’s swim and dive teams win first of three consecutive NCAA championships.

September 1970:Coed living is introduced in Mesa Court student housing.

Nov. 28, 1970: Men’s water polo wins UCI’s first NCAA University Division title.

1972: UCI researchers develop BioBrane, a synthetic skin that serves as temporary skin substitute for burn victims.

1973: Men’s baseball and men’s tennis win NCAA championships.

1974: Middle Earth residence hall, named for J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical land, opens for 350 students.

1979: Enrollment tops 10,000.

June 26, 1982: Alumnus Steve Scott breaks his own American mile record and then breaks it again 11 days later.

August 1984: Alumnus Greg Louganis wins two Olympic diving gold medals in Los Angeles (four years later, he earns two more).

Jan. 1, 1987: Bren Events Center opens.

Jan. 10, 1995: Nobel Prizes awarded to professors F. Sherwood Rowland and Fred Reines.

1995: Revelations surface that fertility doctors at UCI Medical Center took eggs and embryos from patients and, without consent, gave them to other women, resulting in the births of more than a dozen babies.

1997: William J. Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility, home to the Institute for Brain Imaging & Dementia and the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, opens. in a 79,000-square-foot facility.

Dec. 10, 2004: Nobel Prize awarded to professor Irwin A. Rose.

2007: The Department of Nursing opens.

2009: UCI Law opens.

June 14, 2014: President Barack Obama speaks at UCI’s commencement.

March 14, 2015: Men’s basketball advances to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time.

2015: Sierra Club’s magazine, for the second year in a row, ranks UCI the greenest university in the nation.

March 2015: Student leaders ban the display of any flags in a lounge ofUCI’s student government center, leading to flag-waving protesters, outrage on social media and state legislators chiming in. Students overturn the decision and the American flag goes back up in the student lounge.

Sept. 9, 2015: U.S. News and World Report ranks UCI No. 9 among public schools in the nation and No. 39 among all private and public universities.

Sources: UC Irvine, Orange County Register and U.S. News and World Report

Contact the writer: rkopetman@ocregister.com