Golf is one of Gary Singer’s grandest passions.

You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice as the former three-time All-American golfer recounts one of the more thrilling adventures he’s had this past summer — strolling down the historic fairways of the Old Course at St. Andrews Links in Scotland, birthplace of the game.

But there’s another passion in Singer’s heart, one that doesn’t get him trophies or a round of drinks at the clubhouse’s 19thhole. Aside from his wife, Melanie, and his three children, the object of his affection is UCI.

Singer, a 1974 alumnus and managing partner of the Orange County offices of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, an international law firm with more than 700 attorneys, is one of the true allies of the campus. He has put in untold hours sharing his business acumen and connections to benefit the university.

As chairman of the School of Social Sciences’ Dean’s Council, an organization raising money for scholarships and fellowships, Singer has not missed a single meeting in two years. When UCI started up a Social Science Partners Program to encourage business representatives to donate time and money for the cause, Singer was the first to sign up and make a leading gift.

Singer is a former president of the Chancellor’s Club, a member of the Daniel E. Aldrich Society and a trustee of the UCI Foundation. He received the UCI Alumni Association’s Lauds & Laurels Award for Distinguished Alumnus in 1998.

Singer attended Fullerton High School, playing golf competitively even though the school had no official team. He also earned first team All-CIF and All-American honors in water polo. Ultimately he had to choose between the two sports.

Golf won out.

Singer excelled both in golf and academics to the degree that he was awarded a Tony Lema Memorial Golf Scholarship that helped finance his higher education. He is in good company: The scholarship, one of only four given annually in the U.S., has also been won by LPGA champion Nancy Lopez.

He received his bachelor’s in political science (magna cum laudeand Phi Beta Kappa) from UCI and his J.D. (cum laude) from Loyola Marymount Law School in 1977. He was recruited by O’Melveny and assigned to the Los Angeles office, but he returned to Orange County and the firm’s Newport Beach office in 1979. He practices corporate, business and securities law, with a focus on public offerings, mergers and acquisitions and venture finance.

“Each time you’re on campus, or attend a function, and learn more about what UCI has done, what its people have done, you have the immediate feeling that you want to go out and publicize that as quickly and proudly as you can,” Singer says.

As one of the newest trustees on The UCI Foundation Board, Singer finds himself in a key position to spread the word about UCI’s past, present and future to Southern California and the world.

“It’s a very young campus, and to have achieved the stature it has is phenomenal. It tells me a lot. The hardest part for many of us at UCI is getting the message out to the community about the multitude of resources at UCI, the diversity of the programs.”

One of Singer’s current interests is the creation of a law school at UCI. There’s only one public law school in Southern California to serve the area, at UCLA, and the need for another is critical, he says. There’s a large and growing population in Orange County, and combined with UCI’s strong interdisciplinary curriculum and social sciences programs, a law school on campus is a natural, he says.

Former Irvine Company executive Dick Sim, who served as founding chairman of the Irvine Barclay Theatre, says Singer has had an impact on Orange County life as well. Singer took the baton from him in 1993 when Sim retired as chairman and helped the arts venue achieve its most significant growth.

“Gary is not only a talented business leader but also a terrific community leader,” Sim says. “If you have a job and want to get it done, you give it to Gary and he makes sure it gets done.”