June 3, 2004

Los Angeles Times

Big Donor Is Donald Bren, UC Irvine Says

By Jean O. Pasco

UC Irvine officials on Wednesday identified Irvine Co. Chief Executive Donald Bren as the anonymous donor who gave $20 million to UC Irvine's School of Information and Computer Science in December.

Bren will be honored at a campus ceremony and groundbreaking Wednesday for the new Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

His gift, the largest gift ever to UCI, provided more than $18 million for 10 endowed faculty chairs for the new school.

Since 1984, Bren has given more than $40 million to the university, endowing more permanent chairs than anyone in the campus' history.

Company officials said Bren made the donation anonymously through the Donald Bren Foundation last year to keep the focus on the school, which had yet to choose a dean or hire faculty.

The money allowed recruitment to begin in earnest, including the hiring of Dean Debra J. Richardson in March.

The school intended to recognize the Orange County billionaire's generosity at next week's groundbreaking, company and school officials said.

"We knew he'd be recognized down the road," company spokeswoman Jennifer Hieger said.

School officials said they honored Bren's request to delay identifying him to coincide with the announcement of the new dean, the groundbreaking and christening of the school's name.

"I am honored to have my name and support associated with the first computer science school in the UC system," Bren said in a prepared statement. "It is my hope and expectation that this school - and what it produces in the way of human capital and technological innovation - will be the force behind future breakthroughs in education, science and business that will lift our standard of living and quality of life."

Funds approved by voters in March with the passage of Proposition 55, as well as a companion initiative in November 2002, will pay for construction of a six-story, 138,000-square-foot research and classroom facility scheduled to open in fall 2006.

The new school was elevated from department status at UCI in December 2002 and has grown to more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Big Donor Is Donald Bren, UC Irvine Says