23 posts categorized "UC Irvine"

August 29, 2010

The Circle of Life

After a full day's work yesterday, I had great fun getting fancied up to accompany Gerardo to the annual gala dinner event called Zoofari, to support our local zoo.


In addition to enjoying all the festivities, the biggest thrill for me was viewing the Giant Anteaters (one female and one male) in the zoo's brand new exhibit that was recently completed to house these furry critters. They are beautiful.

Photo You may remember my sharing you a while back as we worked really hard with so many community leaders in raising the funds needed to build this exhibit. It was no easy feat. But the thing is ... good things rarely get done without tremendous effort. But time and time again, I do know that with determination and focus, mountains can be moved.

Photo[1] PS ... rumor has it that the female anteater is pregnant! So fun. Let's hope that the baby anteater arrives in good health as this breeding pair becomes a family. The circle of life. Stay tuned ... 

May 14, 2010


I'd like for you to meet my friend, Tiffany. She's about to graduate from UC Irvine. Such a kind heart and talent she is. She will be attending Cordon Bleu as she pursues a degree in culinary arts. (I told her I would like to be on her food-tasting committee in the future.)


She was one of many wonderful folks with whom I celebrated last night at UC Irvine's Lauds & Laurels dinner where I received this award.

IMG_9942 IMG_9939

I love wearing long gowns but there are so few opportunities to do so these days. But for this occasion, I decided it would be appropriate so I selected one made of very flowing vintage fabric. I loved wearing it. I'm also looking forward to trying the gown and dressing it "down" by adding maybe a denim jacket for a different occasion.

IMG_9946 I ended up adding this fabric flower on one side to add a bit of texture and fun. 

Here I am with some more of my favorite UCI Peeps ... Ed, Serafina, and Mark ... extremely smart people doing extremely good work at UC Irvine and in the community.
 Photo Blessed am I.


May 06, 2010


You may remember my tribute to Jack Peltason here. He has been one of the most extraordinary mentors in my life. A man who quietly and methodically moved mountains within the field of higher education which you can read about here 

Jack Peltason
He served as Chancellor of UC Irvine, then served as the 16th President of the University of California, and published numerous works. Jack has just been awarded the American Council on Education's Distinguished Service Award. And I am honored to join the company of many others who recognize Jack's distinguished service, which you can read here.

This honor is most certainly a byproduct of Jack's lifetime of dedicated service to public education, diversity, and excellence. His service changed the landscape of higher education in ways that will have positive reverberations for many generations to come. 

March 11, 2010


Aside from CRESCENDOh and my family, it's UC Irvine that I love. My alma mater. My mother soul.


And I'm humbled and honored to be named the 2010 Distinguished Alumna for UC Irvine's School of Social Sciences. What a thrill. If per chance you are in the southern California area and you want to enjoy a fun gala dinner, check out the information here to learn details. Many thanks to the faculty and staff of UC Irvine's School of Social Sciences, the staff of the UC Irvine's Alumni Association, and so many others involved with this award and event. 

And thank you blog readers, for allowing me this opportunity to brag on this post.


August 23, 2009


Well, it was that time of year again last night ... time to attend Zoofari — the annual gala event to support The Santa Ana Zoo. You might remember my talking about it last year here. This year, the theme was The Funky Monkey, where the decor and music and colors of the night took us back to the 1960s. Super fun.


During the silent auction, we were able to secure this beautiful photograph by Bill Dow, one of the Giant Anteaters (the male one) now living at The Santa Ana Zoo. There is also a female anteater living at the zoo. We are hoping that they will eventually make baby anteaters!


As you may recall here, after we broke ground to start building the home for this pair, we embarked on a campaign to raise funds to secure the naming rights for the male anteater. One of the great things we were able to announce to the guests during Zoofari was that through the support of UCIrvine and the UCI Alumni Association and various community friends, the male anteater is now officially named Peter ... as in Peter the Anteater. 
The anteaters are officially out of "quarentine" and will gradually become more visible at the zoo. Hope you'll consider making a trip out to see these awesome creatures. Peace. Out.

June 10, 2009


When I started my journey as President of the UCI Alumni Association, my goals were two-fold: 
1 To strengthen our Board of Directors by recruiting volunteers with immense talent, energy, focus and stature, and
2 To strengthen alumni voice by seeking opportunities to increase the visibility of our Board, our Association, our community.



I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish over the past two years. 
  • Through the support of Past President Martha Newkirk, UCIAA hosted a reception where for the first time ever, the Chair of the UCI Foundation, the Chair of UCI's CEO Roundtable, and the UCIAA Board of Directors gathered together to break bread and engage with one another.
  • Through the support of volunteers and staff, the UCIAA has attracted board members who are strong leaders within the community, representing a wide and varied spectrum of talent and influence, including one of our newest board members, Dennis Nguyen, who has provided a most generous gift to benefit the students within the School of Humanities. 
  • Through the support of UCI alumni leaders including California State Assembly Member Jose Solorio and former Santa Ana Council Member Mike Garcia, the first breeding pair of Giant Anteaters to inhabit Orange County have arrived at the Santa Ana Zoo, with the male anteater patiently awaiting the possibility of being named Peter.  
  • And most recently, as we have had some difficult weeks related to alumni engagement matters with campus leadership, the alumni community has rallied with support from key members of the faculty to make the case that alumni engagement and traditions related to alumni are an integral part of UCI's long-term success.  
Times are tough. But if there's one thing I know to be true, Anteaters are tough. And as we move forward to courageously address matters that are challenging, I choose to do so with a focus on the power of alumni. We are 112,000-strong and growing. We are successful. We are constant. We will never go away.
Boy anteater
The past several weeks have been extremely difficult for all of us. But what has transpired during this difficult time will hopefully benefit our campus to eventually help us find a path that is properly illuminated with focus, commitment and authenticity in terms of alumni relations.

Alumni have much to celebrate and be proud of. I look forward to many more years of volunteer service for my beloved alma mater ... a campus where its outstanding faculty taught me to think critically, care deeply, and speak courageously and truthfully to power.
[This speech was delivered at the 2009 UCIAA Annual Meeting on June 9, 2009. Fiat lux.] 

May 20, 2009



Dr. Tien’s Passing Gathers Us Together

On October 31st, I, like many of you, woke up to read the very sad news of Chang-Lin Tien’s passing (July 24, 1935–October 29, 2002).  I was in my kitchen with my husband when we read the article in the LA Times about the truly amazing Dr. Tien… the man who achieved splendid things for UC Berkeley as its chancellor for seven years, but also a man who I am extremely proud to have known as UCI’s Executive Vice Chancellor from 1988 to 1990.  During those short years, Chang-Lin Tien illuminated his unique leadership style for the UCI community so brightly and so effectively that we gather today to be near that light once again, through respectful remembrance and honoring that Dr. Tien and his family so deserve.

Lesson #1:  Respect 

I was an undergraduate student when Dr. Tien was named our new Executive Vice Chancellor.  And as Jack Peltason will most likely attest, I was one of several students on  campus who made it our business to regularly put administrators on the hot seat by protesting, fasting, signature collecting and whatever else it took to make our perspectives heard.  What I remember about Chang-Lin Tien is that no matter how hot the seat got, or how argumentative we students were, he listened to us.  He empathized with us.  And even when opinions stood at the farthest ends of the margin, he taught me that having opinions heard and empathized with, was an integral part of the process to resolutions.  In short, the first great lesson I learned from Dr. Tien was the complex art of respecting differences.

Support and Encouragement 

In 1990, I had the honor of being selected as the first UCI student to serve as the UC Student Regent.  Prior to my applying for the position, I remember speaking with Dr. Tien who was so kind and supportive in encouraging me… a student who had so frequently put him in the hot seat but nevertheless telling me that he believed in me and that I should “go for it.”

First Asian American Chancellor 

Coincidentally, during the meeting when I was introduced to the UC Board as the newly selected student regent, Dr. Tien was introduced as the newly selected chancellor for UC Berkeley, the first Asian American to head a major research university in the United States.  I will never forget that day… and I will never forget the feeling of immense pride that I am certain all Asian Americans felt through Dr. Tien’s historical appointment.

Meaning and Relevance 

During my year and a half tenure on the UC board, Dr. Tien went out of his way to help me, an awkward student in a sea of regents and chancellors to make me feel that what I had to say from a student’s perspective had meaning, and that my vote on matters was extremely relevant to the process.

BUT THAT HE DID… Lesson #2:  Courage 

As I read the story of Dr. Tien’s passing, I found myself hoping that he knew how much I admired him.  I do think that I expressed myself to him during his time at UCI and also our time together during regents’ meetings.  I do regret, however, that I never directly conveyed to him my admiration for his continued championing of campus diversity efforts, long after my tenure on the board.  Dr. Tien was a man who was instrumental in bringing in almost a billion private dollars to UC Berkeley.  He was an internationally recognized expert in the thermal sciences.  And believe it or not, he was an extremely talented basketball player.  A man who was this capable in so many areas really didn’t have to champion outreach efforts to underrepresented minority students …  BUT THAT HE DID, even when it was becoming extremely unpopular to do so … reveals what was contained in his heart … an authentic ability to empathize with the disadvantaged, and an unusual courage to stand up for his principles.  And that is the second great lesson that I learned from Dr. Tien … the importance of courageously standing up for one’s values.

American Hero 

I hope Mrs. Tien, and Norman, and the rest of the Tien family, that as you grieve your loss, you will find some comfort in the fact that Dr. Tien’s life of immense talent, courage, and style affected our UCI community deeply, and I will consider Chang-Lin Tien to have been one of our true American heroes … because I now can see the ingredients that make up a hero. Ingredient number one is the ability to respect differences, and ingredient number two is the courage to stand up for one’s values.


How blessed we all are to be able to carry the bright illumination of Chang-Lin Tien forever in our memories … a man who stood only 5’6” tall, but whose heroic integrity towers over us to remind and inspire us to live with respect for differences and with courage for our principles, no matter how hot the seat gets.

Thank you 

I’d like to say a final thank you to Anna Gonzalez, Sally Peterson, Randy Lewis, Chancellor Cicerone, President Peltason, and Vice Chancellor Gomez for so generously coordinating this event and giving all of us this special opportunity to gather in remembrance of Chang-Lin Tien.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

[On November 18, 2002, UC Irvine held a memorial service for the late Chang-Lin Tien — UCI's former Executive Vice Chancellor who moved on to becoming UC Berkeley's Chancellor. It was my pleasure to deliver this speech at the service.]

May 15, 2009


I wanted to post last night but it got way too late ...


After a really special night at Lauds & Laurels: the annual gala dinner where UCI alumni gather to honor excellence in faculty, staff, students, friends, and alumni. At Lauds & Laurels, we always bestow the highest honor on one person with the Extraordinarious award, which this year was bestowed on Professor Jim Danziger. I had the privilege of introducing him. And this is the dress I wore.

April 25, 2009


About a year ago, the dream to bring a breeding pair of Giant Anteaters to the Santa Ana zoo was born. You may remember here, my telling you about early efforts to raise support to build a habitat for the future anteaters. And you may remember my telling you here about our having reached our fundraising goals to break ground to build the anteater's future home. Well, I am more than ECSTATIC to report that the adorable furry critters are finally here! Here's the boy anteater:

Boy anteater
And here's the girl anteater:
Girl anteater
Are they not the cutest things you've ever seen? They are the FIRST and ONLY anteaters in Orange County. They are still currently under quarantine to make sure that they get adjusted to their new environment as zoo staff keep a close eye on their health and adjustment. In June or July, we will have an official ribbon cutting where they make their debut with the public. 

The last leg of this campaign before the public meets them is that they need to be named. And of course, given that UC Irvine's official mascot is Peter the Anteater, it would be perfect to name the boy anteater Peter. In order to make that happen, we need to raise $20K to claim naming rights. For all you anteater fans out there, I hope you'll join me by making a gift to help us reach our goal to name the boy anteater Peter by going here to the UCI Alumni Association site.


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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