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Home > News > Press Releases & Media Advisories > Press Release

Newport Beach couple pledges $1.5 million to UC Irvine to help build first on-campus chancellor residence

Groundbreaking at site in University Hills set for Oct. 4

Irvine, Calif., September 21, 1999

Longtime UC Irvine supporters Thomas and Elizabeth Tierney have pledged $1.5 million to help build a chancellor's residence on the UCI campus.
The residence, to be named the Thomas T. and Elizabeth C. Tierney University House, will be built on a three-acre site in University Hills, an on-campus housing community for faculty and staff. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the site on Monday, Oct. 4, the 34th anniversary of the day the University of California, Irvine officially opened its doors to students.

Since UCI was founded in 1965, the chancellor's residence has been a house in Newport Beach. The new University House, a single-story home designed to blend naturally into the University Hills community, will be within walking distance of the center of campus.

"This generous gift from the Tierneys will help make it possible for UCI's chancellors to interact more on a day-to-day basis with students, faculty, members of the community and visitors from all over the world," said William Parker, UCI's associate executive vice chancellor. "This new residence will provide an ideal setting for informal intellectual and social interaction that enlivens and enriches university life."

"Great universities have always been important centers for the discussion and development of new ideas," said Thomas Tierney, who is chair of the UCI Foundation, the university's leading support group. "Besides providing long-awaited on-campus housing for both present as well as future chancellors and their families, University House will enhance UCI by providing an ideal venue for the chancellor to host a wide variety of functions, from dinner gatherings with students to major policy discussions with global leaders. University House will be a campus legacy building of which we can all be proud."

Elizabeth Tierney said: "Tom and I have been volunteers at the university for 15 years, and we're very pleased to have the opportunity to support this project because it's the well-being of the university as a whole that's important to us, and the University House will serve everyone—students, faculty, visiting dignitaries and the community, as well as the chancellor and the chancellor's family."

Thomas Tierney, who is president of Vita Tech International and chair and CEO of Body Wise International, was elected chair of the UCI Foundation in April 1998. He and Elizabeth Tierney, a trustee of the UCI Foundation, have endowed scholarships at the university in the arts, social sciences and humanities, as well as a lifetime chair in peace studies, the first in the UC system. The Tierneys have received two of UCI's highest awards for service to the university, the UCI Medal and the Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius award.

Thomas Tierney's service to UCI encompasses leadership roles with many of the university's major support organizations, including the Chief Executive Roundtable, the Beckman Laser Institute Support Group, the UCI Scholarship Committee and the Clinical Cancer Center Advisory Board. Elizabeth Tierney is a leader of the School of the Arts capital campaign and serves on the School of the Arts Dean's Council, the Social Science Dean's Ambassador's Council and the Women's Opportunities Center Advisory Council. 
The Tierneys also have been involved in the Chancellor's Club, and Thomas Tierney is a founding member of the Daniel G. Aldrich Society.

The University House will consist of approximately 4,000 square feet for campus interaction and official functions and about 3,800 square feet for the chancellor's official residence. 
Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2000. University House will be funded entirely by non-state monies. The total cost—which covers site development, construction, furnishings, landscaping and parking—is expected to be about $4.5 million. In addition to the $1.5 million gift from the Tierneys, funding sources include proceeds from the upcoming sale of the current chancellor's residence in Newport Beach, discretionary non-state funds from the UC Office of the President, UC Office of the President funds designated for improvements to the Newport Beach residence, and support from other donors.

The development of the new chancellor's residence was placed on hold in 1993 as a result of the budget crisis that faced UCI and the UC system in the early 1990s. The project was reinitiated by UC President Richard C. Atkinson early in 1998 as part of an effort to ensure that each UC campus has an on-campus residence for its chancellor. The UC Board of Regents approved the project in January.

Construction will be overseen by the Irvine Campus Housing Authority, which manages University Hills under an agreement with the UC Board of Regents.


Sherry Angel
(949) 824-6925


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