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University Club of Pasadena President Richard Chinen Reflects on His Tenure, What the Club Means to Him

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 | 12:59 pm

President Richard Chinen in front of Christmas trees [Photo by Martha Leon / S.Photos]
After serving as President during the University Club of Pasadena’s centennial year, Richard Chinen’s tenure will come to a close in March.

Known to many because of his former Tournament of Roses presidency, Chinen recently shared his thoughts on his presidency and what the University Club means to him, both professionally
and personally.

Senator Anthony Portantino presenting a resolution to President Richard Chinen and General Manager Cyrus Afshin. The resolution was in recognition of the Club’s 100th anniversary. [Photo by Martha Leon / S.Photos]
The Club has served as a community linchpin since 1922.

“It has been humbling to have the honor to be able to steward the Club through a pandemic, as our founding members launched the Club shortly after the Spanish flu and World War I, and then others endured the Great Depression and World War II amidst so many other significant events in the past 100 years,” Chinen said.

The Angeles Chorale performing at the Holiday Dinner [Photo by Martha Leon / S.Photos]
Growing up in Hawaii, Chinen attended the University of Hawaii and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1979. He then moved to Southern California to attend Southwestern Law School and obtained a Juris Doctorate in 1982. A member of the Pasadena Bar Association, he served as President from 1999-2000.

A partner of Barbaro, Chinen, Pitzer and Duke, LLP in Pasadena, Chinen is also a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Family Law and Trust and Estates Sections, and a former Adjunct Professor of Family Law at Trinity School of Law.

Chinen recalls he joined the University Club in 1987 “for a nice, quiet place to have business
lunch meetings.”

He said he joined at the urging of his father-in-law.

“It has been a great place to have our monthly law partnership meetings over lunch and to meet clients, friends and new acquaintances to forge deeper relationships in a hospitable and quality atmosphere and good food,” he said.

Howard W. Carter started the University Club in 1922 thinking there ought to be enough university-educated men in Pasadena to start a club. He went around consulting with other friends and soon called a meeting at his home at North Hill Avenue. Among those who attended were Dr. Joseph P. Condit, Herbert L. Hahn, Dr. J. Ross Reed, Dr. Humes Roberts, Dr. Henry H. Shark and H.I. Stewart. Ralph T. Merriam, one of the original partners at Chinen’s law firm was one of the founding wave of members in 1922.

Later on, the next meetings were held in the Hotel Green, until the Club moved to 175 N. Oakland Ave. in 1926.

Women university graduates weren’t admitted as members until 1986-1987, a year before most other clubs in the United States. In 2019, the Club formed the University Club of Pasadena Education Foundation (UCPEF) to support students in higher education.

Chinen has been a Life Director of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and was the group’s president in 2015. He was a board member of the Rose Bowl Operating Company for the City of Pasadena, was on the Dean’s Advisory Council for Fuller Theological Seminary School of Psychology, and served as Vice Chair and Ministry Council member of Lake Avenue Church, and past board President for Pasadena Christian School and Fellowship of Christian Athletes Pasadena area chapter.

He says being part of the University Club of Pasadena has been fulfilling.

“The friendships I have had the privilege of having on the Board and committees have broadened my knowledge and interest in food, wine, education and art,” Chinen said. “There are few things more life-giving than laughter, and we laugh a lot.”

Chinen added that he is looking forward to “a new generation of members who seek fellowship amid an ever-changing culture in this digital age. A place like the University Club will play an important role in facilitating bonds of friendship and growth as we engage and learn from each other with respect over a great meal and warm hospitality.”

“I am beyond grateful for all that I have been blessed with, including the wonderful staff and members of the University Club of Pasadena, and wish
everyone a great new year.”.

The Club celebrated its centennial in April with Chinen at the helm.

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