Samuel McCulloch, founding dean of the UC Irvine School of Humanities and professor emeritus of history, died May 13. He was 96. An authority on the British Empire, McCulloch earned a Ph.D. in history at UCLA and served as dean at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University) before joining UC Irvine in 1963. He laid the foundation for humanities by recruiting and retaining world-class faculty. McCulloch chaired the Academic Senate from 1978 to ’80 and served as president of the Friends of the Library in the mid-1990s. Early on, he recognized the importance of documenting campus history. McCulloch became UC Irvine’s unofficial historian, collecting clippings, memos, records, stories and letters and conducting more than 100 oral-history interviews with such key figures as chancellors Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. and Jack Peltason, Nobel laureates F. Sherwood Rowland and Frederick Reines, and Irvine Company President Ray Watson. Peltason, in fact, later officially designated him UCI historian. McCulloch’s full-time career at the university spanned 27 years, and he remained active in research for more than a decade after his 1987 retirement. In 1996, drawing from his extensive collection of historical material, he published Instant University, which covered UC Irvine from 1957 to 1993. The book provided insight into the acquisition of the campus site from the Irvine Company, the struggles with the state Legislature over incorporation of the medical school and the difficulties of dealing with a declining economy. In 2009, McCulloch donated his papers to UCI Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives. He was a constant fixture at campus events well into his 90s, keeping tabs on UC Irvine’s progress and befriending subsequent humanities deans. He and his wife were regulars at the University Club, where the library bears his name. He served as moderator of the University Club Forum, a weekly luncheon and lecture series featuring the latest research from UCI faculty, from 1981 to 2008. Each year, the School of Humanities presents the Samuel C. and Sara Ellen McCulloch Undergraduate Award to an outstanding history student. “Dad loved UCI and all the people there,” said his son David McCulloch. “He put his heart and soul into the university. Going to basketball games was a must since 1965. [He enjoyed] performances at the Barclay and, most of all, knowing his students. He was a teacher first. They will tell you that.” McCulloch is survived by his wife, Sara Ellen “Sally” Rand McCulloch; children Ellen, David and Malcolm; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Parish Church, 3233 Pacific View Drive, in Corona del Mar. RSVP to David McCulloch at or (949) 283-9199.