Events & Media

Farewell to a Friend
Remembering Jack Peltason, former UC President and true friend of the Bren School

Jeff Dozier, Bren School professor and the school’s founding dean, remembers Jack Peltason, former UC President and huge friend of the Bren School, who died on March 21 at the age of 91.

Jack Peltason

Jack served eight years as the second UC Irvine Chancellor and became president of the UC System in 1992 at the age of 69. Some thought him too old to provide effective leadership of the university at a stressful time, but he addressed the issue in his acceptance speech: "There has been some concern about ... a generation gap," he said. "I think that concern is exaggerated. I do not have any trouble getting along with older people."

In the year (1994-95) I became dean of UCSB's School of Environmental Science & Management, longtime UCSB Chancellor Vernon Cheadle passed away. Jack was on campus for the memorial service, and I got a call from Henry Yang's office, saying, "Jack Peltason wants to meet you."

When I appeared, Jack said, "There's someone in Irvine I want to introduce you to — Donald Bren." That conversation led to two years of discussions, proposals, and negotiations with the Bren Foundation, during which Jack was instrumental in making sure that Donald understood how the university worked.

In 1997 the gift from the Bren Foundation to UCSB was announced, along with the naming of the Bren School. Mr. Bren was impressed by the university's decision to invest in a program that combined the disciplines in the way we had planned, which somewhat resembles the way we actually combine them now.

Jack helped me with advice about patience and confidence while we negotiated the gift. It was, after all, my first attempt at philanthropic fund raising, and I don't think we would have succeeded without his help, along with that of Dennis Aigner of UCI, who become the Bren School’s second dean in 2000, and John Dwyer of the Boalt Law School at UC Berkeley.

Jack was also one of the wryest and wisest people I've known. When I told him in 2000 that I planned to step down from the dean's job, his response was, "Ah, you've decided to promote yourself back to the faculty."

He'll be missed. An SB-relevant tidbit is that Jack's wife, Suzie, is a ninth-generation Santa Barbaran, from the More and De la Guerra families, as I recall.

See the UC Irvine remembrance of Jack Peltason.