LA JOLLA — Having spent the better part of the year congratulating itself on its silver anniversary, UC San Diego paused Saturday to pat the backs of a special group of local civic leaders and educators who have helped the institution achieve its eminence.
Chancellor Richard Atkinson and his wife, Rita, were co-hosts for the 14th annual dinner-dance given for the university's Chancellor's Associates, whose members contribute annually to the chancellor's discretionary fund, and for the Board of Overseers, a community advisory board that assists in the development and operation of the campus. The occasion marked the 20th anniversary of the Chancellor's Associates. More than 300 guests turned out for the formal evening, given, as always, at Revelle Commons, the university's main refectory.
Distinguished service awards were presented to a quartet of community leaders, including Texas Instruments founder and noted philanthropist Cecil Green and, in absentia, his wife, Ida. The guests also watched a changing of San Diego's Old Guard, as George Gildred passed the chairmanship of the Chancellor's Associates to builder Dean Dunphy. During his two-year tenure, Gildred attracted 79 new members to the association.
Since the university chose its 25th year as the one in which to cast a spotlight on the Pacific Ring (the agglomeration of countries and cultures that rims the Pacific), an emphasis highlighted by the Pacific Ring Festival held on campus earlier this year, the party was given a pan-Pacific accent. Immense Japanese lanterns, almost the size of barrels, seemed ready to swallow the guests assembled for the cocktail reception given on the Revelle Commons terrace; in their size and shape, they echoed the departing sun that, in a riddle of nature that might stump an Aesop, sailed slowly toward the Orient so as to make room for the darkness that also approached from the East. The hors d'oeuvres buffets likewise took a walk down the Eastern side of the street, and in addition to offering spicy pot stickers and skewers of chicken satay , they featured sashimi , or sliced raw fish, which this crowd treated like a familiar friend. Some even essayed chopsticks.
Among those enjoying these prefatory nibbles were Dunphy and his wife, Marie. The new chairman said of UCSD: "It is an enormously important institution, and it's inevitable that it will be at the heart of much that is great in San Diego." He added, rather modestly, "I'm pleased to play a role, no matter how limited that role may be." Also enjoying the hour were Board of Overseers Chairman Mary Berglund and her husband, Jim, and the newly selected director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Ed Frieman, and his wife, Joy.
(Darlene Shiley found the relatively limited confines of the cocktail site comforting, especially when compared to the vast spaces she encountered at the previous Saturday's "Rendezvous in the Zoo," a fund-raiser given at the San Diego Zoo. Reflecting back on that party, she commented, "When they tell you you'll find the restroom by making a left turn at the elephant, they shouldn't move the elephant!")
The guests started drifting indoors as night fell, a slow tide of guests that gathered speed when the Atkinsons pounded the dinner gong. The Marianne Kent Band, which had been patiently waiting its chance, immediately lured the guests out to the dance floor in a quick warm-up routine that led directly to the evening's brief program.
Richard Atkinson opened the program by reporting that the university has raised nearly 80% of the $31 million it targeted in its current capital campaign, which still has six months to go. Then Master of Ceremonies George Gildred took the lectern to award plaques to 10- and 20-year members of the Chancellor's Associates; in the latter category were Frank Hope, Jerry Jones, Hamilton Marston, Clinton McKinnon, S. Falck Nielsen and Walter Zable. Atkinson returned to the microphone to present distinguished service medals to Cecil Green and to Gerald and Viviane Warren. Gerald Warren, editor of the San Diego Union, formerly served as deputy press secretary to Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, and it was with his assistance that UCSD recently presented a major symposium entitled "Twenty-five Years of the Presidency."
The conclusion of the program allowed the guests to turn to a dinner of Japanese salad, "carpetbagger" steak, and Philippine fruits with white chocolate mousse. The band played straight through until midnight, and among those couples who danced until the music stopped were Ken and Dixie Unruh; Dixie, along with an absent Anne Otterson, helped the school to arrange the dinner dance.