The Givens’ affinity for UCI – and the belief in the impact they can have on the university – secured its place in their will.

UCI Professor Emeritus Makes Legacy Gift

In between riding horses through Iceland and walking long-distance footpaths in Britain, UCI professor emeritus of history James Given and his wife, Ruth, made an important decision: to make a legacy gift to UCI.

Though the Givens’ alma maters include Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford and Yale, their affinity for UCI – and belief in the impact they can have on the university – secured its place in their will.

The gift will provide travel awards for graduate students in the Department of History, which will help them conduct dissertation research domestically or internationally and present their research at conferences.

“Research funds have dried up for graduate students in the last 15 to 20 years,” said James Given.

“Research funds have dried up for graduate students in the last 15 to 20 years.”

- James Given

The couple created a $500,000 endowment for UCI’s Department of History, to be paid from their estate after both have passed.

Without money for travel, it is more difficult for students today to do a thorough job researching their dissertations than when Given was in school. He spent a year in London back in the mid-’70s working on a dissertation about homicide in England in the 13th century for a doctoral degree in medieval history.

“There was a lot more money available for research and travel then, and it was a lot cheaper to live in London,” he said.

James Given joined UCI in 1984 to teach medieval European history, and stayed for 28 years.

Endowments at UCI are invested in perpetuity, and only the interest on the fund is spendable. This means that the Givens’ generous endowment will provide travel funds for graduate students for years to come.

Given began his teaching career at the University of Michigan. In 1979, he earned a teaching position at Harvard. Despite the handsome salary at an Ivy League school, Given is grateful he ended up at UCI. “It was much more interesting than if I had stayed at Harvard. At Irvine, I really felt like I was playing a role, a not insignificant role, in helping to build up a very impressive university.”

Given came to UCI to teach medieval European history in 1984, and stayed for 28 years. During that time, the student body grew from 11,000 to over 30,000, diversity flourished and instruction and research “vastly improved.”

Given retired in 2012. Now, he and his wife live in the Columbia River Gorge area just north of Portland, Ore.