Alumni Dream is a Reality With New Home
Martha Newkirk, Ph.D. ’81 and her husband fund new alumni center.
Martha Newkirk was a young working mother when she started classes at UC Irvine in 1969. She took challenging classes, interacted with talented professors, even participated in a few campus protests. And she found her niche.
“UC Irvine opened my eyes to the broader world,” says Martha, who earned three degrees here, including her doctorate in social ecology.
Forty years later, her devotion to UCI continues. She and her husband, James Newkirk, provided the generous funding that enabled the Newkirk Alumni Center to be built. Opened in January 2013, the 12,500-square-foot center is a focal point for more than 140,000 former students.
“UC Irvine has provided Jim and me with benefits that go well beyond the education that resulted in my degrees,” Martha says. “This new center provides the impetus for others to take advantage of what the campus has to offer. I want to ignite alumni passion about reconnecting with the place they received their education, to develop more of a voice for the campus in their communities … and I want them to be more generous with their support.”
Featuring progressive architecture, sustainable design and practical usability, the Newkirk Alumni Center lets the campus increase networking opportunities and gives the community a new setting for conferences, meetings, reunions and weddings.
The first floor of the new facility offers a large conference room; a living-room-style den containing couches, a fireplace, a large-screen television and a display of UC Irvine memorabilia; and a cafe. The second floor houses staff offices, an executive boardroom, a smaller meeting room, and a mezzanine with access to a rooftop view of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.
The center is strategically located near a campus entrance, off University Drive on Mesa Road, close to the Bren Events Center and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.
Martha is a past president of the UCI Alumni Association and a trustee of the UCI Foundation, where she is on the executive committee, chairs the alumni & student relations committee, and is a member of the nomination & board development committee. She has received the UCI Alumni Association’s Lauds & Laurels award and the campus’s highest distinction – the UCI Medal.
She and her husband have endowed two fellowships in social ecology, and their name is on the Newkirk Pavilion at Anteater Ballpark. The couple also established UCI’s Newkirk Center for Science & Society, which helps professors share their research with the community to improve the quality of life.
The Newkirks hope that by making a leadership gift for the alumni center, they will inspire others to support the facility as well. The UCI Alumni Association is seeking to raise the last
$3 million needed for the $10 million project, and several naming opportunities still exist.