Donald Bren, Chairman of the Board of Irvine Company, has been deeply involved in California real estate as a master planner and a master builder for 50 years.
Born in Los Angeles, Bren earned a degree in economics and business administration from the University of Washington. Following his education, he served three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Bren joined the Mission Viejo Company in 1963 as president, initiating the master planning and master building of the 11,000-acre new community of Mission Viejo, California. In 1967, Bren sold his interest in the Mission Viejo Company to expand his activities in new master-planned communities within Southern California including Westlake Village and Newhall Ranch, and Foster City in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 1977, Bren became a member of an investment group that purchased Irvine Company from the Irvine Foundation. Bren was elected Chairman of the Board in 1983 and became the sole shareholder.
During the last 40 years, under Bren’s leadership and vision, the Irvine Company has professionally planned and master built the City of Irvine, California, the largest all-new city in the United States. The city currently has a population of 270,000, growing to an estimated 325,000 people over the next 10 years, with an equal number of employment positions.
Bren maintains a long tradition of philanthropy and environmental stewardship, supporting causes ranging from environmental preservation to education and scientific research.
Business Week recognized Bren’s philanthropic giving to be in excess of $1.3 Billion. The European London Times recognized him as one of the top 10 people in the world for his vision and contributions to green and environmental causes.
Key Philanthropic Contributions
- Endowed over 50 permanent distinguished professor chairs at the University of California and California Institute of Technology.
- Contributed research funding to Caltech for Space Solar Power Project, seeking to provide mankind with a worldwide continuous electrical power source from space.
- Founded one of the nation’s first graduate-level environmental schools, the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, at University of California, Santa Barbara.
- Initiated the University of California’s first dedicated school of computer science, the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, at University of California, Irvine.
- Gifted more than 57,500 acres for permanently preserved open space and parklands, creating the largest urban open space and parklands network in the United States. It is the only land in California to receive both the California State and United States National Natural Landmark designation.
- University of California Presidential Medal
- California Institute of Technology Robert A. Millikan Medal
- Marine Corps University Foundation’s General Leonard F. Chapman Jr. Medal
- American Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellow