Al Irwin Academic Center to Provide Enhanced Resources for UCI Student-Athletes

Al Irwin Academic Center will provide UCI student-athletes with enhanced resources.
Al Irwin Academic Center will provide UCI student-athletes with enhanced resources.


May 18 article in The Current on Al Irwin

IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine student-athletes will benefit from first-class student-support services in the Al Irwin Academic Center, planned for construction during a renovation project within the existing space at Crawford Hall. The project, with a lead gift from the generosity of Martha and Jim Newkirk, will expand the space for vital student-support services for Anteater student-athletes.

The center is named for Al Irwin, UCI’s first water polo and swim coach as well as an athletic administrator, whose impact on athletics has been felt throughout Orange County.

Al Irwin, who helped build the foundation for athletic programs across Orange County, has created a legacy with his thoughtful guidance of future leaders. Today, Al continues to be a life coach, a mentor, and a close friend for so many people within this community. Al, UC Irvine’s first water polo and swim coach, is an individual whose influence over young lives has made a lasting impression on many within the Orange County community; especially those who had the honor to compete for him. The Al Irwin Academic Center will be a dedicated space to continue his vision and commitment to teaching and preparing young people for making an impact in their community.

Al Irwin spent 14 years at UC Irvine from 1965-78. In 1970, he was the assistant coach with the water polo team that won the team's first-ever NCAA Division I championship. In addition to his coaching legacy at UC Irvine, Irwin became the acting vice chairman of the UCI Department of Physical Education and Assistant Director of Athletics until his retirement in 1978. Al has earned numerous awards for his work as a standout coach and athlete at Newport Harbor High School. As an athlete, Al earned 15 high school varsity letters and went on to play college football at the University of the Pacific, where he earned All-Coast honors.

Upon completion, the Al Irwin Academic Center sends a clear and powerful message to scholar-athletes, coaches, the surrounding community, and alumni about UCI’s commitment to transforming the student-athlete experience by providing a quality learning environment. The center will provide a comprehensive area which will house services such as academic consultation for course selection, class scheduling, and skills development classes (including study strategy workshops, note and test taking), orientation for freshman and transfer student-athletes as well as academic and life management skills. The Al Irwin Academic Center will also assist with summer-school assessment and assistance, tutoring and mentoring opportunities, computer and printer-lab access. Other possible uses for the center include post-eligibility programs for internships, résumé-building opportunities, networking, and job searches for the department’s 400 student-athletes. The new center will provide intellectual and social community support that contributes to the holistic development of student-athletes and stimulates camaraderie among all students throughout UCI’s 18 Division I sports.

The Al Irwin Academic Center and the features within the center will provide resources for student-athletes, who give everything they have to make the grade in representing UCI, through this new aid and support center. The center will dramatically expand student-athlete access to computers, study areas, classrooms, and offices for private sessions. New study hall space will expand to approximately 2500 sq. ft., to include a computer lab that will occupy 1600 sq. ft. and tutoring rooms will occupy 550 sq. ft. of the space. The center’s highlights include a modern computer lab with the latest information technology, dedicated tutoring and study space, staff offices for confidential sessions, and casual study area.

With your help, we can honor Al’s lifelong efforts by paying it forward to current and future UC Irvine student-athletes while also continuing Al’s legacy of developing future leaders. This project has been made possible through a generous contribution from Martha and Jim Newkirk, long-time supporters of UC Irvine and opportunities for success among student-athletes. Please consider joining the Newkirk family in this endeavor by making a personal contribution towards this project. For additional information or to make a gift in support of the Al Irwin Academic Center please contact Kara Correa at (949) 824-0055 or To make a gift on-line, CLICK HERE and go to "Capital Campaign 2012".


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