June 3, 2004

The Orange County Register

A concrete thank you

By Gary Robbins

Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren is being doubly honored for two decades of helping nurture the University of California, Irvine, a campus his firm says greatly enhances the value of its huge real estate investments in Orange County.

UCI said Wednesday that its fast-growing computer school has been named the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science. And the $50.6 million research and office complex the school will break ground on next Wednesday will be called Bren Hall.

The news comes six months after the 72-year-old Bren donated $20 million, most of which will be used to recruit the sort of elite professors who build programs attractive to nameplate technology companies such as Broadcom and foster the growth of the Irvine Co.'s shopping centers.

Bren Hall will become the second campus building to bear the name of the reclusive billionaire, who has donated $42.3 million to UCI since 1984.

Here is a sampling of Bren's contributions to the campus, which is roughly in the middle of the communities and companies his private firm has been developing or managing in Tustin, Irvine and Newport Beach:

THE BREN-UCI CONNECTION

1960: The Irvine Co. donates 1,000 acres to the University of California for creation of an Irvine campus, the intended heart of a master-planned city. The land has a value of $10,000 to $12,000 per acre. Today, the value is $4 million per acre. The UC system later buys almost 500 additional acres from the Irvine Co. for future campus expansion.

1965: UCI opens with 1,549 students.

1977: Donald Bren joins other investors in buying the Irvine Co. Bren is the largest single investor, owning 34 percent of the company's shares.

1983: Bren is elected chairman of the Irvine Co. He has been buying more shares and becomes sole owner in 1996.

1984-91: Bren donates $1.56 million toward UCI Bren Events Center.

1988-2004: Bren donates $35 million to the Donald Bren Endowment. Most of the money goes to create 23 endowed professorships to recruit or honor elite faculty, including UCI chemist and Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland, biologist Francisco Ayala, winner of the National Medal of Science, and Donald McKayle, a prize-winning modern dance choreographer.

UCI AT A GLANCE
- Fall 2004 enrollment: 24,000 (roughly the population of Laguna Beach) 2003-04 budget: $1.1 billion (est.)
- Local economic impact: $3 billion annually (est.)
- Workforce (including UCI Medical Center, Orange) 16,254 as of October 2003. UCI is the third-largest employer in Orange County, after Disneyland and the county government.
- Nobel Prize winners: 2
- National Academy of Sciences members: 19
- Sources: The Irvine Co., UCI, and land broker Roland Chavez at O'Donnell Atkins, Irvine
A concrete thank you