UCI News

UCI chancellor’s new initiative aims to infuse arts and culture into campus

October 15, 2014

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 16, 2014 – A new program designed to expose students in all majors to the artistic experience and strengthen UC Irvine’s connection with regional arts and cultural institutions is taking shape on campus at the direction of Chancellor Howard Gillman, Ph.D.

Illuminations, the Chancellor’s Arts & Culture Initiative, will prepare students to participate in the dialogue between science and the humanities that addresses enduring questions of human culture and social values, Gillman said.

“The program should reinforce the sheer joy of creation and discovery that is at the heart of all academic inquiry and expression,” he said, “and will highlight the fundamental contributions made by the creative arts to our understanding of the world and our place in it.”

Julia Lupton, professor of English and associate dean for research in the School of Humanities, will lead the initiative. An inaugural suite of activities and events – conceived by faculty, staff and students and funded by small grants – will be held in the 2014-15 academic year, with a fuller calendar scheduled for 2015-16.

“My dream is to see art occurring at various locations across the campus that is themed toward different disciplines – cell-slide art or patterns generated by motion in physics, for example,” said Lupton, who has a background in design. “Just as the New Swan Shakespeare theater creates a sense of place each summer, I’d like to do micro-place-making during the year, with dance, drama and music pop-ups around campus.”

In addition, she expects units and schools to develop their own ideas, which she could help refine and implement.

Illuminations will introduce students to Southern California’s dynamic range of cultural venues, such as Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory and more. A UCI Community Arts Council – chaired by Stephen Barker, interim dean of arts, in collaboration with Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of humanities, and community arts leaders – will oversee six to eight high-visibility events each year. At these public functions, students will be able to interact with artists, writers and performers.

Regional partners on the council are:

  • Terrence Dwyer, president, Segerstrom Center for the Arts
  • John Forsyte, president, Pacific Symphony
  • Peter Keller, president, Bowers Museum
  • Ralph Opacic, president & executive director, Orange County School of the Arts
  • Douglas Rankin, president, Irvine Barclay Theatre
  • Todd DeShields Smith, CEO & director, Orange County Museum of Art
  • Richard Stein, executive director, Arts Orange County
  • Paula Tomei, managing director, South Coast Repertory
  • Malcolm Warner, executive director, Laguna Art Museum

“Creativity and imagination are the forces that drive the arts and sciences,” said Tomei, of South Coast Repertory. “As an alumna of UCI, I am especially honored to be given the opportunity to engage in this important initiative.”

Stein, of Arts Orange County, said the initiative offers the prospect of a greatly strengthened relationship between UCI students and the rich cultural landscape of Orange County.

“The university has long been a leader in the visual and performing arts, having educated many world-renowned artists in its esteemed graduate programs,” he said. “With our nation at the forefront of an innovation economy that relies increasingly upon creativity in all endeavors, Illuminations is just the kind of program that can ensure that UC Irvine students are fully prepared to take their future leadership roles in it.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. Located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities, it’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy.

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