Marilyn Sutton has a passion for public higher education – a passion that emanates from the conviction that it is transformative and releases creative potential. It is this passion that kept her engaged at California State University, Dominguez Hills for 35 years, led her to serve on the regional accrediting commission and brought her to the UCI Foundation.
A longtime supporter of UCI, Sutton joined its Board of Trustees just 18 months ago. In addition to serving as a trustee, she is a member of the Council for the Getty Conservation Institute and an adviser to the PPIC Center for Research in Higher Education. Previously, Sutton was on the boards of Loyola Marymount University, Claremont Graduate University and Southern California Public Radio, where she continues as a life trustee.
Sutton sat down to answer some questions about the university, its future and how others can experience what she calls the “Disneyland of the mind.”
Q: How did you become interested in UCI?
Sutton: My husband, Tom, and I have been involved as community members for many years, interacting through various iterations of the Chancellor’s Club, the Chief Executive Roundtable and specific support groups for areas of continuing interest. It is tempting to think of UCI as our local university, but we are a global force. The UC system is arguably the finest public research university in the world, and the greatest value of UCI is the cutting-edge research it produces. The fate of the future depends on the discoveries of our present. We should claim the space of the “center of intellectual life in Orange County.” It’s about learning, discovery and becoming. At every level at UCI, the story is one of becoming, of empowerment.
Q: What excites you about UCI’s next major fundraising campaign?
Sutton: UCI just completed an unprecedented campaign and an unprecedented rise as a university. With land available on campus, new populations in the surrounding community and solid research endeavors, UCI is perfectly situated to become. Our next campaign won’t be about restoring the tradition; it won’t be about trying to get a start; it will be about becoming the University of the Future.
Q: What have you learned during your time as a trustee that you think others should?
Sutton: I wish the public realized what a transformative place UCI is, how it directly impacts the communities of Orange County on a human, economic and creative level. I also wish people knew it is easier to find your way around the UCI campus than it seems. A guided campus tour is a trip paved in story – the story of major research breakthroughs that are changing our world.