Every Anteater has a story to tell

50th Anniversary Historian Krystal Tribbett, right, interviews Joseph L. White, professor emeritus, at the UCI Stories opening night program May 23, 2016. Photo: Carlos Puma for UCI

By Anna Iliff

Perhaps you are familiar with the tale of the burgeoning University of California campus built on the Irvine Ranch over 50 years ago, that under the guidance of its first chancellor, Daniel Aldrich, became an “instant university” simultaneously “under construction indefinitely.” But, do you know the stories within UCI’s story – stories about the last cowboy on the ranch, meetings in mailrooms, mentors that changed lives, and the rise of athletics from the ashes?

On May 23, dozens of Anteaters gathered on campus to celebrate the launch of “UCI Stories,” the latest exhibit at the UCI Libraries that features a collection of oral histories from past and present faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.

“I am very grateful to the UCI Libraries for undertaking this project as part of the celebration of UCI’s 50th anniversary,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “These personal reminiscences and reflections of people who shaped our university over the years and who are now shaping its future are invaluable to our understanding of our role and mission in the region and in the world.”

As part of an opening night program and reception for the exhibit, a panel of pioneering Anteaters shared personal stories that spanned the ages – from memories of rehabilitating and counseling rowdy students in the 1960s to developing the alumni community into a network of supporters.

Among the special guests were Joseph L. White, professor emeritus and “godfather” of black psychology; Robert Cohen, professor emeritus of drama and founding faculty member; Jenny Doh, alumna and former student regent; and Elizabeth Toomey, former assistant vice chancellor of government & community relations and daughter of Chancellor Daniel Aldrich.

“Without you – the people – there is no university. This is just a place with buildings and spaces. You are the folks that make it what it is,” said Krystal Tribbett, 50th Anniversary project historian and exhibit curator.

UCI Stories includes 50 discussion pairings of more than 100 campus leaders, faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members. A highlights video is available on YouTube. The exhibit will remain on display in the Langson Library’s Muriel Ansley Reynolds Gallery through September. For a photo slideshow of the opening night event, visit the UCI Libraries Flickr page.