Developer-University Pact : UCI’s Ayala Is First Bren Fellow
UC Irvine professor Francisco Ayala on Tuesday was named the first of what will be many Bren Fellows, launching an intellectual fraternity and perpetual endowment that will be the legacies of Irvine Co. Chairman Donald L. Bren and UCI Chancellor Jack W. Peltason.
The Bren Fellows Program, which is eventually expected to generate $7 million to $12 million annually for the university from lease income, will allow UCI to attract the world’s foremost scholars and leap ahead as an international center of research and science, Peltason said during a news conference.
“The secret of building a great university is no secret,” Peltason said. “You get the brightest people you can and put them together to interact. Through the Bren Fellows Program, these scholars will have funds and direction.”
Ayala, a distinguished professor of evolutionary biology, was also named director of the program. Bren, the multimillionaire development company executive, also announced his second monetary gift to the fellowship--$1 million, for a total $2.5 million.
Asked whether he considers the scholarly circle his legacy, Bren, 56, said, “One could call it that.”
But the program, and the real estate deal that made it possible, will also be Peltason’s bequest to UCI. Peltason is expected to retire in 1991.
After five years of talks with Bren, Peltason last year won the Irvine Co.'s agreement to lift a deed restriction that had prevented the university from developing valuable campus-edge property purchased from the firm in 1960. The pact allows UCI to move ahead with plans for a 135-acre research park on the condition that commercial lease income will be pumped back into the fellowship.
Peltason said it is impossible to predict how many Bren Fellows the program eventually will establish but estimated that at least 10 will be needed to generate an intellectual “critical mass” that would include other distinguished professors and endowed chair holders at UCI. In accordance with Bren’s wishes, the initial fellows will be in health or basic science fields.
At least $1 million in additional lease income or donations will be required to endow each additional Bren Fellow, according to guidelines approved by the UC regents. The first Bren programs, including symposiums and lectures, will be offered in the 1989-90 academic year, Ayala said, gathering the nucleus of an interdisciplinary intelligentsia.