First Class

As UCI reaches the end of its two-year 50th anniversary celebration, and with commencement 2016 approaching, it seems fitting to reflect on UCI’s earliest days and its pioneer students.

UCI’s first graduating class, in 1966, consisted of just 14 students, who arrived on campus Oct. 4, 1965, for the first day of classes (top photo). In a rare photo of the inaugural class (above), 11 members gather outside Gateway Commons (now Gateway Study Center) prior to a commencement dinner address by mathematics professor Bernard R. Gelbaum (far left). The class of 1966 earned 10 bachelor’s degrees, three master’s and one doctorate.

“In your memorable year at Irvine, you have been one of a group of adventurers brave enough to forego the comfortable paths to success, daring enough to gamble with a set of untried ideas and eager enough to cause a quiet revolution in university outlook,” Gelbaum told the graduates on June 25, 1966. “You were endowed with great resources, excellent counsel … and the crucial ingredient of courage.”

Fifty years later, more than 9,000 UCI students will follow in their footsteps – joining more than 160,000 alumni. Congratulations to the class of 2016!