Jack W. Peltason was one of the very first faculty at UC Irvine. In 1963, while the campus was still in its planning stages, he was selected to be the inaugural dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Science. A year later, he was named vice chancellor for academic affairs, guiding the academic growth of the nascent university.
In 1984 Peltason was selected by the UC Board of Regents to be UC Irvine’s second chancellor. During his eight-year term UC Irvine underwent unprecedented physical growth, increased funding for endowed chairs and distinguished professors, initiated community partnerships, and attracted major institutes, notably the UC Humanities Research Institute in 1987 and the National Academies of Sciences & Engineering in 1988.
In addition to his service at UC Irvine, Peltason also served as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, president of the American Council on Education, and president of the University of California. A distinguished scholar, he is one of the nation’s leading experts on the Constitution and his book on American Politics is the definitive work in the field. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a founding member of the Center for the Study of Democracy. In 2010, when he received the American Council on Education’s Distinguished Service Award for “a lifetime of achievement and service to higher education,” the university recognized the honor with a feature and video that can be found here.
Today, as Jack Peltason turns 90, UC Irvine and the City of Irvine celebrate his extraordinary contributions to our university, our community and our nation.
As much as anyone, you are responsible for building this campus from the very beginning and nurturing our growth forward. Your vision and leadership made us who we are today. Your greater service to the University of California, and American higher education broadly, places you squarely among the great leaders in our field. We are all thrilled and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with you and to bask in the glow of all that you have created. Thank you so much. Happy 90th birthday.
With love and respect,
Michael V. Drake
Jack W. Peltason’s stewardship of UC Irvine and of the University of California has been a national model of effective leadership. He has always been a gentleman of great decency, wit, insight, wisdom, energy, and commitment. For the past decade, he has demonstrated the meaning of the words courage and strength. Thank you for everything you have done for us and for your friendship.
Dean, School of Social Sciences, 1982-2002
A member of UC Irvine’s founding faculty, Jack Peltason went on to achieve the highest positions in American educational leadership and international recognition as a political scientist. His combination of humor, pragmatism, and commitment to higher education is legendary. His many contributions of leadership and engagement at this campus and in the wider community around us resonate even today.
Dean, School of Social Sciences, 2002-2013
As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are fortunate to have legendary scholars and academic leaders like Jack Peltason as our role models for how we envision the next 50. His many contributions provoke awe, and inspire.
Dean, School of Social Sciences, 2013-
From City of Irvine proclamation:
Now, therefore, the City Council of the City of Irvine does hereby proclaim, August 29, 2013, as “Jack Peltason Day” in the City of Irvine and commends him for his distinguished contribution to the advancement of higher education, helping University of California at Irvine becoming a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service, and building the strong camaraderie between the City of Irvine and the university.
Steven S. Choi
Mayor, City of Irvine