One of UCI’s most important missions is to make sure the public gets the full story about the impact UCI is making.

“What better way than to do that than by tapping the experiences and good will of its alumni,” said 1974 graduate Fred Sainick, formerly Alumnus Regent on the UC Board of Regents.

“It’s important to build good feelings about UCI and its accomplishments. Alumni are a great resource for that,” Sainick said.

Alumni regents are critical representatives on the UC board, Chancellor Ralph Cicerone said. They are a campus’s best ambassadors. Sainick understands this role.

“It’s important to build good feelings about UCI. Alumni are a great resource for that,” Sainick said.

Generally people see UCI as an excellent university, with high academic standards and primed for explosive student growth, Sainick said. Unfortunately, some, he fears, have the misconception that the campus serves only the academic elite.

“Nothing is further from the truth,” Sainick argued in a recent interview. Shattering any public misperception of UCI as elitist is one of his priorities. It is an important task because a large number of campus programs rely in large part on contributions from the community.

Sainick, an attorney and partner in the law firm, Sainick & Cote in Newport Beach, was selected for the two-year appointment to the board of regents in February 2001. He received his bachelor’s of science in history from UCI and a law degree from UCLA in 1977. He served the UCI Alumni Association as president, vice president of finance and administration and as secretary.

“If people aren’t aware that UCI is doing the job in so many areas, the possibility exists that UCI can get negative reactions when it shouldn’t. This can be a great disservice to the university and its mission,” Sainick said.

For instance, Sainick observed that people are largely unaware of UCI’s longstanding K-12 outreach programs. “The Pre-College Gifted Students Academy, MESA, COSMOS, ArtsBridge and Humanities Out There are just a few examples of dozens of successful efforts for getting economically and ethnically diverse students to seriously consider attending the university,” Sainick said.

“The goal is to ensure that a UC education is achievable to those students who have demonstrated academic excellence, no matter their background. This effort demands broad-based support for the school and public recognition of existing successful programs to promote access to the university.”

The Irvine campus is one of the fastest growing in the UC system, with 1,000 new students expected annually through 2010 when total enrollment may approach 30,000. The quality of students is also increasing, with the average GPA and SAT scores the highest-ever among applicants.

There are a number of challenges to be met, Sainick noted.

Increasing the number of upper division students remains a UC priority. Sainick noted that the primary way to address this priority is to continue to target community college transfers. UCI has already been highly successful in doing this as a method of addressing the California master plan for higher education.

Sainick points out that in order to serve the growing student population, the campus must provide more financial aid in the form of scholarships, fellowships and grants. Working closely with potential donors and benefactors is more critical than ever in light of the growth in student population.

Building on the academic reputation by adding a law school would also be a key accomplishment for UCI, Sainick said.

“I think UCI would be an excellent place for a law school. The bar community is very supportive of it,” he said. There is a pressing need for another public law school south of San Francisco. Orange County, with its continued growth, is an ideal location.

“Professional schools are seen as hallmarks of a mature university. We have an excellent medical school and now is the time to get serious about opening an excellent law school.”

When Sainick attended UCI it was a smaller institution surrounded by the open spaces of a younger Orange County. The nature of the campus is changing, he acknowledged, but thoughtful planning has ensured that an attractive environment has been maintained. He expects that the community and campus will continue to have a good relationship and said that it is important for UCI to be a good neighbor as it grows.

“It’s a very desirable physical campus. Combine that with the academic excellence and – as my fellow alumni know – a UCI education is a great value,” Sainick reflected.