History of Cal
In 1866, the land comprising the current Berkeley campus was purchased by the private College of California. Because it lacked sufficient funds to operate, it eventually merged with the state-run Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College to form the University of California, the first full-curriculum public university in the state. The university opened in September 1869. Frederick Billings was a trustee of the College of California and suggested that the college be named in honor of the Anglo-Irishphilosopher George Berkeley. In 1870 Henry Durant, the founder of the College of California, became the first president. With the completion of North and South Halls in 1873, the university relocated to its Berkeley location with 167 male and 222 female students and held its first classes.
Beginning in 1891, Phoebe Apperson Hearst made several large gifts to Berkeley, funding a number of programs and new buildings, and sponsoring, in 1898, an international competition in Antwerp, Belgium, where French architect Emile Bernard submitted the winning design for a campus master plan. In 1905, the University Farm was established near Sacramento, ultimately becoming the University of California, Davis. By the 1920s, the number of campus buildings had grown substantially, and included twenty structures designed by architect John Galen Howard.
Robert Gordon Sproul served as president from 1930 to 1958. By 1942, the American Council on Education ranked UC Berkeley second only to Harvard Universityin the number of distinguished departments.
During World War II, following Glenn Seaborg‘s then-secret discovery of plutonium, Ernest Orlando Lawrence‘s Radiation Laboratory began to contract with the U.S. Army to develop the atomic bomb. UC Berkeley physics professor J. Robert Oppenheimer was named scientific head of the Manhattan Project in 1942. Along with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (formerly the Radiation Lab), Berkeley is now a partner in managing two other labs, Los Alamos National Laboratory(1943) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (1952).
Originally, military training was compulsory for male undergraduates, and Berkeley housed an armory for that purpose. In 1917, Berkeley’s ROTC program was established, and its School of Military Aeronautics trained future pilots, includingJimmy Doolittle, who graduated with a B.A. in 1922. Both Robert McNamara and Frederick C. Weyand graduated from UC Berkeley’s ROTC program, earning B.A. degrees in 1937 and 1938, respectively. During World War II, the military increased its presence on campus to recruit more officers, and by 1944, the student body at Berkeley included more than 1,000 Navy personnel. The Board of Regents ended compulsory military training at Berkeley in 1962.
During the McCarthy era in 1949, the Board of Regents adopted an anti-communist loyalty oath. A number of faculty members objected and were dismissed; ten years passed before they were reinstated with back pay.
In 1952, the University of California became an entity separate from the Berkeley campus. Each campus was given relative autonomy and its own Chancellor. Then-president Sproul assumed presidency of the entire University of California system, and Clark Kerr became the first Chancellor of UC Berkeley.
Berkeley gained a reputation for student activism in the 1960s with the Free Speech Movement in 1964, and opposition to the Vietnam War. In the highly publicized People’s Park protest in 1969, students and the school conflicted over use of a plot of land; the National Guard was called in and violence erupted. Modern students at Berkeley are less politically active, with a greater percentage of moderates and conservatives. Democrats outnumber Republicans on the faculty by a ratio of 9:1.
Various human and animal rights groups have recently conflicted with Berkeley. Native Americans conflicted with the school over repatriation of remains from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Animal-rights activists have threatened faculty members using animals for research. The school’s response to tree sitters protesting construction caused controversy in the local community.
As state funding (now about 25%) has declined, Berkeley has turned to private sources: BP donated $500 million to develop biofuels, the Hewlett Foundation gave $113 million to endow 100 faculty chairs, and Dow Chemical gave $10 million to research sustainability. The BP grant has been criticized for diverting food production to fuel production.
The original name University of California was frequently shortened to California or Cal. UC Berkeley’s athletic teams date to this time and so are referred to as the California Golden Bears,Cal Bears, or just Cal. Today, University of California refers to a statewide school system. Referring to the University of California, Berkeley as UCB or University of California at Berkeley is discouraged and the domain name is berkeley.edu. Moreover, the term “Cal Berkeley” is not a correct reference to the school, but is occasionally used. Berkeley is unaffiliated with the Berklee College of Music or Berkeley College. However, UC Berkeley does share academic ties with Yale University; not only were many original Berkeley founders Yale graduates (see below), but the names, University of California, Berkeley and Berkeley College (Yale), were inspired by the intellectual contributions of the western philosopher, George Berkeley.