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Endowed chair named for former chancellor


An anonymous donor has pledged more than $1 million to UC Irvine for the creation of the Jack W. Peltason Endowed Chair, named for the former UCI chancellor and University of California president.

“We are honored to have this endowed chair named for Jack Peltason, as it reflects his contributions as a distinguished scholar of political science and national leader in higher education,” said Barbara Dosher, dean of the School of Social Sciences. “This is especially appropriate given his many leadership contributions to the University of California and UC Irvine.”

Peltason, a founding faculty member, was named UCI’s second chancellor in 1984. During his eight-year tenure as chancellor, the campus experienced unprecedented growth, increased funding for endowed chairs and distinguished professors and attracted major institutes, including the UC Humanities Research Institute in 1987 and the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in 1988. In 1992, Peltason was appointed president of the University of California. In the midst of a major state budget crisis, he was able to stabilize the UC budget through an agreement with the governor. Peltason retired from academia in 1995 and remains active in the UC Irvine community.

“I am quite honored and pleased by this recognition,” Peltason said. “I have watched and participated in UC Irvine’s growth from a fledgling campus to a top-tier research university, and I am excited by what the future holds for the campus and the scholar who will hold this endowed chair.”

Peltason, an expert on American constitutional politics and political institutions, is the co-author of Government by the People, a leading textbook on American government that remains in print after 50 years. He has written on the constitution, the courts, state and local government, and the American political process.

Peltason was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1923 and received his doctorate in political science from Princeton University in 1947. He lives in Irvine with his wife, Suzanne, and serves on the boards of various organizations, including Soka University of America, the Irvine Health Foundation and the Archstone Foundation. Jack and Suzanne Peltason have three children and seven grandchildren, as well as five great-grandchildren.

The gift that establishes the Peltason chair includes $1 million in endowed funds and an $112,500 expendable component. The funds will be used by the chair-holder to enhance teaching and research. The chair will go to a faculty member within the Center for the Study of Democracy in recognition of Peltason’s research interests. To be eligible for appointment to the Peltason Chair, a professor must be engaged in full-time research and teaching at UCI and demonstrate a commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,800 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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