Office of the Chancellor

Dinner Anteater Family style

Feb. 2, 2015

Chancellor Gillman sierra hall dinner with students

Chancellor Howard Gillman and students make an “S” with their hands to symbolize Sierra Hall. The hand sign is a longtime tradition for residents of the Mesa Court hall. Photo: Jocelyn Lee / UC Irvine

Chancellor Howard Gillman recently met with 10 students from Sierra Hall, a freshman dormitory in Mesa Court, to have dinner Anteater Family style.

After dishing up, Gillman and the students shared stories, asked each other questions, and even took a couple of selfies. It was part of a series developed by Mesa Court Housing Director Lou Gill to give students a chance to get acquainted with top-level administrators and distinguished faculty in an informal setting. Past guests have included Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs; Sharon Salinger, former dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education and professor of history; and Graciela Fernandez, director of the Student Outreach & Retention Center.

“It’s part of UC Irvine’s effort to maintain a small-college feel on a relatively large campus,” Gill said.

Sierra is known as the “Community in a Diverse Society” hall, one of UCI’s many thematic residences for freshman students. The multicultural dorm has a 40-year tradition of providing opportunities for students to explore diversity, develop their values, and further their ability to make an impact in their community. Each quarter, residents enroll in a three-part class titled “Moral Development & Just Communities,” where students explore personal and social issues based on principles of fairness and justice.

Freshman Camila Gelabert said the program is one of many things she enjoys about living in Sierra. “My favorite thing about Sierra is the sense of family it’s given me,” she said. “Everyone is so close. We were automatic friends. We’re not only living together, we’re going through the same experiences. It made the transition a lot easier.”

Juan Arciniega, an environmental engineering freshman, chose to live in Sierra as a way get out of his comfort zone and expose himself to new things. Meeting the chancellor gave him an opportunity to share his experiences and learn more about how the university operates, he said. 

“One of the best parts of my job is getting to spend time with UCI’s bright, talented students who are eager to make their mark on campus and in the community,” said Gillman. “It was inspirational to spend time with the amazing students of Sierra Hall.”