It’s hard for Barbara Davidson ’69 to imagine life without UCI. She came to campus as a member of the charter class in 1965. She will leave June 28, 2007, retiring as associate chancellor after working in various roles for 32 years. While she won’t miss her hectic schedule, she will miss her colleagues.
“I have mixed feelings. I’ll miss the day-to-day interactions with my colleagues and friends, but will enjoy creating my own schedule,” Davidson says.
It’s not that she doesn’t have plans. Davidson has always been interested in art. She’s taking courses at the Interior Designers Institute in Newport Beach and plans to open a part-time residential design business in the next year. She signed up for a watercolor class in August, and she’ll spend three months in Italy this fall, learning Italian and taking classes in Renaissance art history. Yet no matter how fulfilling her second career promises to be, Davidson knows she’ll feel a little lost after leaving “the best job at UCI.”
It’s been a grand career. She’s been the confidante of two chancellors – Ralph Cicerone, who appointed her assistant chancellor in July 2000, and Dr. Michael Drake, who promoted her to associate chancellor last year.
“I was lucky because the chemistry was right with both chancellors. That’s very important in this type of position,” she says. “I’ve been privileged to work closely with two brilliant leaders who are also kind and wonderful human beings.”
She’s helped the chancellors cope with hectic schedules, being a good listener and doing “whatever needs to be accomplished.” She’s worked with the chancellor’s search committees and special task forces; assisted and advised on management issues related to faculty, staff and students; and planned key events, like visits by the UC Board of Regents.
“In this job, you’re involved in every discussion that’s moving the campus forward,” Davidson says.
Since her first days as an English major, Davidson has had a key part to play on campus. As one of the university’s first few Regents’ Scholars, she was chosen among the 958 freshmen to hoist the flag at UCI’s opening ceremony just prior to the inaugural academic year. On Oct. 4, 1965, a photographer from the Los Angeles Times followed her from class to class capturing her – and the university’s – first day.
She and her husband, Douglas ’68, met on campus. Giving back to their alma mater has been paramount for the Davidsons. Douglas, an attorney, is former president of the UCI Alumni Association and past co-president of the Chancellor’s Club; both are lifetime members of the organizations.
Among her many contributions to campus, Davidson is especially proud of her role as associate director of the fundraising campaign to build the Phineas Banning Alumni House, dedicated in 1986.
“We were a young alumni group, and often the donations were only a few hundred dollars, but we built that little house,” she says. She also helped raise funds to build the Qureshey Research Laboratory.
After her retirement, she’ll continue to stay involved in campus – perhaps meeting with prospective students to encourage them to make UCI their alma mater.
“I’ve got UCI in my blood,” she says.