Office of the Chancellor

Illuminations, the Chancellor's UC Irvine Arts and Culture Initiative

Oct. 16, 2014

Dear Colleagues: 

I am excited to announce a new Chancellor’s UC Irvine Arts and Culture Initiative that will be called “Illuminations.” 

Building on UCI’s demonstrated excellence in the creative arts and cultural programming, Illuminations is designed with two goals in mind. First, we want to ensure that all of our students, regardless of major, have serious and meaningful exposure to the creative arts. In addition, we seek to strengthen the connections between UCI and our regional arts and culture centers and institutions. 

Making the arts a deeper and more pervasive part of the student experience will reinforce the sheer joy of creation and discovery that is at the heart of all academic inquiry and expression, and will highlight the fundamental contributions made by the creative arts to our understanding of the world and our place in it. It will enable our students to grow in ways unavailable to them in any single field of study, and it should equip them to participate more fully in the continuing dialogue between science and the humanities as that dialogue addresses the most enduring questions of human culture and social value. 

Illuminations will feature an array of structured activities and events that are conceived by faculty, staff, and students from across the campus and produced within our various schools and programs. Intended primarily for our undergraduates, these activities will offer an immersive experience in the arts with a reflective component but no formal lectures or requirements. These events will be overseen by a faculty and student council, which will award small grants to faculty and students who want to explore the arts, cultures, and creative processes in relation to their own fields of study. 

Illuminations will also introduce students to Southern California’s dynamic cultural landscape at important venues throughout the region. A UCI Community Arts Council, chaired by the dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts in collaboration with the dean of the School of Humanities and community arts leaders, will oversee six to eight high-visibility events each year. At these more public events, students will have the opportunity to interact with artists, writers, performers and other special guests. These interactions will provide students with a dynamic experience of the arts and culture as they function outside the university, laying the foundation for a life-long appreciation of the arts and their crucial role in American society and the global community. The UCI Community Arts Council will also be a mechanism by which the university explores other opportunities to contribute to the ongoing development of Orange County’s arts and culture infrastructure. You will see a list of our initial community partners at the end of this message, and I thank all of them for their support of this important endeavor. 

Illuminations will be housed in the provost’s office and overseen by a faculty director. I am delighted to announce that Julia Lupton, professor of English and associate dean for research in the School of Humanities, has agreed to serve in that role. She will start working immediately to develop a limited number of events in 2014-2015 and then mount the first full program in 2015-2016. 

Look for an announcement regarding the program’s launch before year-end. 

Working together we can make Illuminations a vital part of the UCI experience and an important component of our thriving regional arts and culture community. I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of our efforts. 

Chancellor Howard Gillman 

The regional partners on our UCI Community Arts Council are:

Terrence W. Dwyer, president, Segerstrom Center for the Arts
John E. Forsyte, president, Pacific Symphony
Peter C. Keller, Ph.D., president, Bowers Museum
Ralph S. Opacic, Ed.D., president and executive director, Orange County High School of the Arts
Douglas C. Rankin, president, Irvine Barclay Theatre
Todd D. Smith, chief executive officer and director, Orange County Museum of Art
Richard Stein, executive director, Arts Orange County
Paula Tomei, managing director, South Coast Repertory
Malcolm Warner, Ph.D., executive director, Laguna Museum of Art