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Ray Watson Papers Donated to the UCI Libraries

As chief planner for The Irvine Company beginning in 1960 and later as its President during the 1970s, Raymond L. Watson was a key figure in the Company’s collaboration with the University of California to envision, plan, and implement a new Irvine campus. His recent donation of his papers to Special Collections and Archives adds an important dimension to our regional history archives.

Ray Watson is a storyteller, and he likes to recall the heady days in the 1960s and 1970s when UCI and the City of Irvine were being planned and developed. For example, when he first arrived to join the Irvine Company’s planning team, he spent his first night in the Irvine Ranch bunkhouse and had breakfast in the kitchen with the ranch hands. He and Daniel Aldrich, UCI’s founding Chancellor, both had their first offices in the Company’s former headquarters on Old Myford Road, which facilitated their long-standing friendship and working relationship. He may know more than anyone else about how architect William Pereira convinced the University to build a campus on the Irvine Ranch that would have close synergy with a contiguous new city, and how he was then hired to implement his own vision. And he chuckles when he notes that the 1,000 acres donated by the Company to the State of California for the UCI campus would now sell for about $3 million dollars per acre.

Watson is well known for his avid interest in this history, as donation of his papers further demonstrates. But he hasn’t stopped at saving documentary evidence; he is also writing his own memoirs (which may someday be a book), drafts of which are now in the library. He notes that “his version” of things sometimes differs significantly from the published record, as in the case of the lengthy legal battles between local environmentalists and the Company regarding development of the Upper Newport Bay.

In addition to his own published and unpublished writings, speeches, and research notes, the Raymond L. Watson Papers include a variety of Irvine Company publications, reports, and other records pertaining to his role in the Company and the projects that he oversaw. Issues that arose during the City of Irvine’s early years are well documented. Other materials reflect his professional interests and involvement at both national and international levels.

For more information or to consult the Ray Watson Papers, please contact Jackie Dooley, Head of Special Collections and Archives (x44935 or jmdooley@uci.edu).



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