Daniel G. Aldrich, the founding Chancellor of UCI, was born in Northwood, New Hampshire on July 12, 1918. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture at the University of Rhode Island in 1939, earned a Master of Science at the University of Arizona, and went on to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 1943.
Aldrich began his academic career at the University of California in 1944 as a soil chemist at the Citrus Experiment Station, now UC Riverside. In 1955 he was appointed Chair of the Soils departments concurrently for UC Davis and UC Berkeley.
In 1958 he became Dean of Agriculture for the University of California, presiding over agricultural teaching programs at Davis, Berkeley, Riverside and Los Angeles, as well as the Statewide Agricultural Experiment Station. He was responsible for activities on four campuses, a network of field stations and the Agricultural Extension Service, with farm advisors and home advisors serving 56 of California's 58 counties.
In 1962 Aldrich was appointed the founding Chancellor of the future Irvine campus, with the condition that he would be allowed to create a land-grant college of the 21st century. He was responsible for developing the Irvine campus from blueprints to fully-operating academic institution within 3 years. Aldrich's background in agriculture and his connection with the land-grant system at the University of Rhode Island influenced his decision to design a campus in which environmental planning and community service would be crucial. He felt that the University should serve the people. He remained UCI's Chancellor for 22 years.
Aldrich retired in 1984, and the campus's Central Park was soon renamed Aldrich Park in his honor. Soon after, following the sudden death of UC Riverside Chancellor Tomás Rivera, he became Acting Chancellor at UCR from 1984-1985. He was called again from 1986-1987 to serve as Acting Chancellor of UC Santa Barbara. He finally retired in reality and became Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California, Irvine.
Aldrich remained involved in numerous civic and professional activities. A lifelong athlete, he was also an active participant in a variety of sports, ranging from coaching Little League teams in Riverside, Davis and Berkeley, to participating (and winning medals) in U.S. Master Track and Field Championships, Senior Olympics, and World Association of Veteran Athletes Championships.
Daniel Aldrich died on April 9, 1990. He had served the University of California for 47 years.
University Archives Vertical Files collection. AS-163. Box 3 (Folder 13), Box 5 (Folder 8). Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Accessed Oct. 23, 2017.
University of California, Irvine, Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich professional papers. AS-003. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Accessed Oct. 23, 2017.
University of California, Irvine, Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Records. AS-001. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Accessed Oct. 23, 2017.
Photograph (September 1966): University of California, Irvine, early campus photograph albums. AS-056, Box 5. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.