The Newkirk Alumni Center
The Newkirk Alumni Center, open for tours at part of Saturday's homecoming festivities, provides a range of options for events, including a spacious reception area and a patio that can be reserved for gatherings of up to 250 people. Steve Zylius / University Communications

UC Irvine will add a unique feature to its traditional homecoming celebration: an open house for its new 12,500-square-foot Newkirk Alumni Center. A ribbon-cutting was held Jan. 8. The center is currently open for tours by Anteaters and their families and friends as part of the Homecoming Street Festival, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12. The day will also include a 4 p.m. men’s basketball game against Cal State Northridge. Details are posted on the UC Irvine Alumni website.

Featuring progressive architecture, sustainable design and practical usability, the Newkirk Alumni Center lets the campus increase networking opportunities and gives the community a new setting for conferences, meetings, reunions and weddings.

“It allows us to provide more programs and amenities for our growing alumni family,” says Jorge Ancona, assistant vice chancellor of alumni relations. “It’s the next step in the evolution of a maturing institution.”

UC Irvine Alumni serves more than 140,000 Anteaters, a number that expands by nearly 9,000 each year.

The first floor of the new facility offers a large conference room; a living-room-style den containing couches, a fireplace, a large-screen television and a display of UC Irvine memorabilia; and a cafe. The second floor houses staff offices, an executive boardroom, a smaller meeting room, and a mezzanine with access to a rooftop view of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

The center is strategically located near a campus entrance, off University Drive on Mesa Road, close to the Bren Events Center and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

“Most of our alumni come back to campus for sporting or arts events, so this location is excellent,” says Greg Mickelson ’84, UC Irvine Alumni president. “The Newkirk facility serves as an initial touch point – a place to meet, network and grab a quick bite before heading off to an event. As UCI approaches the milestone of its 50th graduating class, it’s a time for alumni to elevate our game and show pride in the university.”

The center is the first stand-alone building on campus named after a UC Irvine alumna. Martha ’72, M.A. ’76, Ph.D. ’81, and James (honorary ’12) Newkirk provided the generous funding to start construction of this much-needed facility.

The Newkirks are longtime supporters of the university. Martha is a UC Irvine Foundation trustee, a past member of the University of California Board of Regents and a past president of UC Irvine Alumni. She and her husband have endowed two fellowships in social ecology, and their name is on the Newkirk Pavilion at Anteater Ballpark.

The couple also established UC Irvine’s Newkirk Center for Science & Society, which helps professors share research with the community to improve the quality of life. They hope their gift to the alumni center inspires others to help fund the facility.

“UC Irvine has provided Jim and me with benefits that go well beyond the education that resulted in my degrees,” Martha Newkirk says. “Cultural offerings, sports, events that allow us to meet with other alumni, and even the chance to support the outstanding programs on campus have all been very rewarding. This new center provides the impetus for others to take advantage of what the campus has to offer.”

UC Irvine Alumni is seeking to raise the last $3 million needed for the $10 million project, and several naming opportunities still exist. For more information, contact Allison Dolan Wilson at 949-824-4552.