In December 2006 the Libraries featured Orange County philanthropist and environmentalist Joan Irvine Smith in a program and book signing celebrating the publication of her new memoir, A California Woman’s Story.
Richly illustrated with more than 1,700 illustrations, Smith’s latest volume looks back at her deep connection to California: growing up on the Irvine Ranch; serving as a vocal young member of the Board of The Irvine Company; achieving renown as a world-class horse breeder; fostering and supporting a wide range of interests in the political and medical spheres; founding a museum to display her pre-eminent collection of California plein air paintings; and becoming one of California’s most ardent and vocal environmental activists.
Associate University Librarian Judy Kaufman welcomed an overflow audience and described Mrs. Smith’s tremendous vision and influence in the shaping of Southern California. Smith is the great-granddaughter of James Irvine I, an Irish immigrant who amassed 120,000 acres of what is now Orange County to form the Irvine Ranch.
Smith particularly focused on the many lawsuits that she and her family have been involved in over the years to preserve areas of southern California from development, including the fierce battle to save Crystal Cove State Park. She also described her early involvement in the contentious negotiations that led to The Irvine Company’s donation of 1,000 acres of land to the University for the UCI campus.
Smith is a longtime champion of UCI. A member emerita of the UCI Foundation Board, she was awarded the UCI Medal in 1990 for her extraordinary contributions to the University, which include funding important medical causes and establishing the Reeve-Irvine Spinal Cord Injury Research Center.
Smith described her love of plein air art as a reflection of California’s past. She and her mother, the late Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke, founded The Irvine Museum, the most important publicly available collection of landscapes of California Impressionist paintings. Showcasing the natural beauty of the land through art, Smith reasons, is an effective way to raise public awareness of critical environmental issues.
Following the program, guests purchased signed copies of the book and had the opportunity to talk one on one with Mrs. Smith. While in line, many were heard commenting on Smith’s fascinating life story.
For more information on the UCI Libraries’ public events, please contact Julie Sully, Associate Director of Development (firstname.lastname@example.org or x44658).
Joan Irvine Smith Publishes Autobiography
Mitchell Brown, Kay Collins, Jackie Dooley, Sylvia Irving, Kathryn Kjaer, Steve MacLeod, Julie Sully, Allison Tran, Christina Woo
Editor: Jackie Dooley
Design & Production: