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April 06, 2009


In the 1980s when I was an undergraduate, my Chancellor was Jack Peltason. A few years ago, I attended Jack's 80th birthday party where family and friends were able to reflect on his tremendous accomplishments as UCI's Chancellor Emeritus and UC's President Emeritus. As I was getting ready to attend the party, I remember my children asking me how a person gets to do all that Jack had done.

Cliché as it may sound, I told them that it was through hard work ... one step at a time, one grade at a time, one book at a time, one year at a time. It's no magic, really. Simply a passion to achieve brilliance and excellence and a consistently focused dedication to making it happen.
Forty years ago, our very young alumni community decided to establish the UCI Alumni Association. It was about the time I was born ... a time when I was literally learning to do lots of new things, including taking my very first baby steps. When I consider how young the campus was when our association was founded, and how limited our resources must have been, I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the leaders who had the courage to step up and make it happen.
Over the years, UCIAA has continued to build on this vision to create an association that offers so much to helping our alumni voice be heard as we partner with the campus and community leadership to enrich the lives of our alumni and advance the UCI campus.
As UCIAA continues taking bite after bite of the elephant, we learn how to stretch our limited resources, we generate fresh and new ideas, and we inspire accomplished alumni like Dennis Nguyen to endow chairs through UCIAA to benefit the lives of students.
We gather today to celebrate UCIAA's 40th birthday. Perhaps the youngest in our crowd might ask how an organization gets to accomplish all that UCIAA has accomplished. And cliché as it might sound, the answer is the same as I gave my children years ago about Jack ... through hard work. One step at a time. One idea at a time. One program at a time. One scholarship at a time. And with each step, a commitment and focused dedication to brilliance and excellence.
On behalf of the entire UCIAA board of directors, I thank you for your support ... because as Jack Peltason says, your presence is the best present we could hope for. Thank you very much.

[This speech was delivered at the UCIAA 40th Anniversary Celebration on March 26, 2009.]
PS: Photos courtesy of Laurel Hungerford.


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