This is quite the honor, and I am appreciative and touched. UC-Irvine is where I had my first teaching experience, earned an MA in German, and felt the call to seminary. Actually, that was off-campus at the former St. Matthew's Lutheran Church (LCMS). However, that is another story.
At Irvine one of my professors was Dr. Ruth Klüger, who at the time used Angress as a surname. I took a Kleist seminar from her and enjoyed the experience. Originally I was to write a dissertation associated with Thomas Mann or Expressionism. When that hit a snag for reasons I will not mention here, she offered me a fantastic topic, knowing I was an active Lutheran: the Pflugschriften (pamphlets) of the 1520s. It was a hot topic, funding was virtually assured to research in Germany, and her name carried weight.
But she supported my decision to enter seminary. We communicated 30 years later when I saw a documentary on her in Germany.
She died in October 2020. As a Holocaust survivor, writer, professor, and activist, she had a worldwide reputation. I posted her obituary, which was seen on Twitter by TimesRadio UK. They kindly had me on a broadcast as a former student. I was paired with a scholar. I sent a link to the UCI Magazine, and someone there must have wondered about this alumnus who had done some interesting things.
Although I spent only two years in Irvine, and almost a year at UC-Berkeley, that was a transformative time for me in many ways. I tried to return to California, but could not. Later my wife even turned down a job offer, but that turned out well also.
California appears in my poems, and I am glad to have lived there.