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Jean Aldrich
The late Daniel J. Aldrich Jr. was the first chancellor of UC Irvine, and his wife, Jean, an Irvine resident, was a guiding support during the early years. Her husband served from 1962-1984, opening the campus in 1965. UCI has been an integral part of the City’s history, and Jean Aldrich has been there every step of the way. To view the 40th Anniversary Oral History Project, in which she is interviewed, go to cityofirvine.org

Q: When your husband first looked out at open fields, he saw a future campus.

A: You could just see in his eyes, that he could ‘see’ a university and he could ‘see’ a town around it. And that is what happened. I looked out and saw probably what the children first saw – cold and empty.

Q: Your thoughts of UCI in 1965 and UCI today.

A: You can get lost on campus today, wondering where to find the buildings. (In 1965), it was four to five original buildings around the circle. What has happened is a fantastic thing.

Q: Why is a university such as UCI so important to a City such as Irvine?

A: It brings a higher education of a very fine kind to a community that is a family community, so it is close at hand. I have never run into any one of them (graduates) who haven’t been proud of it.

Q: What does the City’s 40th Anniversary mean to you?

A: The City can take a great deal of pride as it has been developed. It is really a beautiful City.

Q: If you enroll at UCI, what major will you choose?

A: I love reading; I love history. They would all be very tempting. But I would probably go more into the area of the School of Social Sciences. I think I would probably end up there, and even start out there. Mixed in with the Social Sciences, the other things that you might find interesting: I would like to take dance in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. There is a great opportunity, really.