Made possible by President Lincoln's signing of the Morrill Act in 1862, the University of California was founded in 1868 as the state's first land-grant university, inheriting the land and facilities of the private College of California and the federal-funding eligibility of a public agricultural, mining, and mechanical arts college. The Organic Act states that the "University shall have for its design, to provide instruction and thorough and complete education in all departments of science, literature and art, industrial and professional pursuits, and general education, and also special courses of instruction in preparation for the professions".
Ten faculty members and 40 male students made up the fledgling university when it opened in Oakland in 1869.Frederick H. Billings, a trustee of the College of California, suggested that a new campus site north of Oakland be named in honor of Anglo-Irish philosopher George Berkeley. The university began admitting women the following year. In 1870, Henry Durant, founder of the College of California, became its first president. With the completion of North and South Halls in 1873, the university relocated to its Berkeley location with 167 male and 22 female students. The first female student to graduate was Rosa L. Scrivner in 1874, admitted in the first class to include women in 1870.
Beginning in 1891, Phoebe Apperson Hearst funded several programs and new buildings and, in 1898, sponsored an international competition in Antwerp, Belgium, where French architect Émile Bénard submitted the winning design for a campus master plan.
In 1952, the University of California reorganized itself into a system of semi-autonomous campuses, with each campus given a chancellor, and Clark Kerr became Berkeley's first Chancellor, while Robert Sproul remained in place as the President of the University of California.
Berkeley gained a worldwide reputation for political activism in the 1960s. In 1964, the Free Speech Movement organized student resistance to the university's restrictions on political activities on campus—most conspicuously, student activities related to the Civil Rights Movement. The arrest in Sproul Plaza of Jack Weinberg, a recent Berkeley alumnus and chair of Campus CORE, in 1964, prompted a series of student-led acts of formal remonstrance and civil disobedience that ultimately gave rise to the Free Speech Movement, which movement would prevail and serve as a precedent for student opposition to America's involvement in the Vietnam War.
In the current century, compared to the 1960s and 70s, Berkeley has become less politically active, although more liberal. Democrats outnumber Republicans on the faculty by a ratio of nine to one, which is a ratio similar to that of American academia generally.
The school has become more focused on STEM disciplines and fundraising. In 2007, the Energy Biosciences Institute was established with funding from BP and Stanley Hall, a research facility and headquarters for the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, opened. The next few years saw the dedication of the Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, funded by a lead gift from billionaire Li Ka-shing; the opening of Sutardja Dai Hall, home of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society; and the unveiling of Blum Hall, housing the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Supported by a grant from alumnus James Simons, the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing was established in 2012. In 2014, Berkeley and its sister campus, UCSF, established the Innovative Genomics Institute, and, in 2020, an anonymous donor pledged $252 million to help fund a new center for computing and data science. For the 2020 fiscal year, Berkeley set a fundraising record, receiving over $1 billion in gifts and pledges, and two years later, it broke that record, raising over $1.2 billion.
The University of California is governed by a 26-member Board of Regents, 18 of whom are appointed by the Governor of California to 12-year terms. The board also has seven ex officio members, a student regent, and a non-voting student regent-designate. Prior to 1952, Berkeley was the University of California, so the university president was also Berkeley's chief executive. In 1952, the university reorganized itself into a system of semi-autonomous campuses, with each campus having its own chief executive, a chancellor, who would, in turn, report to the president of the university system. Twelve vice chancellors report directly to Berkeley's chancellor, and the deans of the 15 colleges and schools report to the executive vice chancellor and provost, Berkeley's chief academic officer.
Twenty-three presidents and chancellors have led Berkeley since its founding.
Berkeley receives funding from a variety of federal, state, and private sources. With the exception of government contracts, public support is apportioned to Berkeley and the other campuses of the University of California system through the UC Office of the President and accounts for some 12 percent of Berkeley's total revenues. Berkeley has long benefited from private philanthropy, with considerable gifts from the Flood, Hearst, Durant, Strauss, Lick, Harmon, and Bacon families in the 19th century and from the Hearst, Doe, Sather, Rockefeller, Cowell, Haviland, Bowles, Boalt, and Stern families, among others, in the first half of the 20th century. More recently, alumni and their foundations have given to the university for operations and capital expenditures.
The 2008–13 "Campaign for Berkeley" raised $3.13 billion from 281,855 donors, and the "Light the Way" campaign, scheduled to conclude at the end of 2023, has raised over $6.2 billion.
Berkeley is a large, primarily residential Tier One research university with a majority of its enrollment in undergraduate programs but also offering a comprehensive doctoral program. The university has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission since 1949. The university operates on a semester calendar and awarded 8,725 bachelor's, 3,286 master's or professional and 1,272 doctoral degrees in 2018–2019.
The university's academic enterprise is organized into 15 colleges and schools, which, in turn, comprise 180 departments and 80 interdisciplinary units offering over 350 degree programs. Colleges serve both undergraduate and graduate students, while schools are generally graduate only, though some offer undergraduate majors or minors.
Requirements for undergraduate degrees are set by four authorities: the University of California system, the Berkeley campus, the college or school, and the department. These requirements include an entry-level writing requirement before enrollment (typically fulfilled by minimum scores on standardized admissions exams such as the SAT or ACT), completing coursework on "American History and Institutions" before or after enrollment by taking an introductory class, passing an "American Cultures Breadth" class at Berkeley, as well as requirements for reading and composition and specific requirements declared by the department and school.
Graduate and professional programs
Berkeley has a "comprehensive" graduate program, with high coexistence with the programs offered to undergraduates, and offers interdisciplinary graduate programs with the medical schools at UCSF (various masters and doctoral) and Stanford (MD/MPH). The university offers Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Fine Arts, and PhD degrees in addition to professional degrees such as the Juris Doctor, Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Health, and Master of Design. The university awarded 963 doctoral degrees and 3,531 master's degrees in 2017. Admission to graduate programs is decentralized; applicants apply directly to the department or degree program. Most graduate students are supported by fellowships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships.
Berkeley's 32 libraries together contain more than 13 million volumes and cover over 12 acres (4.9 ha) of land, forming the fourth largest collegiate library system in the nation.Doe Library serves as the library system's reference, periodical, and administrative center, while most of the main collections reside in the subterranean Gardner Main Stacks and Moffitt Undergraduate Library. The Bancroft Library, which has over 400,000 printed volumes and 70 million manuscripts, pictures, and maps, maintains special collections that document the history of the western part of North America, with an emphasis on California, Mexico and Central America. The Bancroft Library also houses the Mark Twain Papers, the Oral History Center, the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri and the University Archives.
The 2018–19 Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) rated Berkeley the top public university in the nation and 4th overall based on quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty, publications, influence, and citations.
Washington Monthly ranked Berkeley the top public school and 9th among all national universities in 2022, with criteria based on research, community service, and social mobility.
For 2020–21, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) ranked the university 12th in the world based on quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty, and research performance.
In 2017, the Nature Index ranked the university the 9th largest contributor to papers published in 82 leading journals.
In his memoirs, Clark Kerr records Berkeley's rise in the rankings (according to the National Academies) during the 20th century. The school's first ranking in 1906 placed it among the top six schools ("Big Six") in the nation. In 1934 it ranked second, tied with Columbia and the University of Chicago, behind only Harvard; in 1957 it was ranked as the only school second to Harvard. In 1964 Berkeley was named the "best balanced distinguished university", meaning the school had not only the most top departments but also the highest percentage of top ranking departments in its school. The school in 1993 was the only remaining member of the original 1906 "Big Six", along with Harvard; in that year Berkeley ranked first.
The American Council on Education, a private non-profit association, ranked Berkeley tenth in 1934. However, by 1942, private funding had helped Berkeley rise to second place, behind only Harvard, based on the number of distinguished departments.
The 2010 United States National Research Council Rankings identified Berkeley as having the highest number of top-ranked doctoral programs in the nation. Berkeley doctoral programs that received a #1 ranking included English, German, Political Science, Geography, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Epidemiology, Plant Biology, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.
For Fall 2022, Berkeley's total enrollment was 45,745: 32,831 undergraduate and 12,914 graduate students, with women accounting for 56 percent of undergraduates and 49 percent of graduate and professional students. It had 128,226 freshman applicants and accepted 14,614 or 11.4%. Among enrolled freshman, the average unweighted GPA was 3.90.
Berkeley students are eligible for a variety of public and private financial aid. Generally, financial aid inquiries are processed through the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, although some schools, such as the Haas School of Business and Berkeley Law, have their own financial aid offices. Berkeley's enrollment of National Merit Scholars was third in the nation until 2002, when participation in the National Merit program was discontinued. For 2019, Berkeley ranked fourth in enrollment of recipients of the National Merit $2,500 Scholarship (132 scholars). Twenty-seven percent of admitted students receive federal Pell grants.
To the west of the central campus is the downtown business district of Berkeley; to the northwest is the neighborhood of North Berkeley, including the so-called Gourmet Ghetto, a commercial district known for high quality dining due to the presence of such world-renowned restaurants as Chez Panisse. Immediately to the north is a quiet residential neighborhood known as Northside with a large graduate student population; situated north of that are the upscale residential neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills. Immediately southeast of campus lies fraternity row and beyond that the Clark Kerr Campus and an upscale residential area named Claremont. The area south of the university includes student housing and Telegraph Avenue, one of Berkeley's main shopping districts with stores, street vendors and restaurants catering to college students and tourists. In addition, the university also owns land to the northwest of the main campus, a 90-acre (36 ha) married student housing complex in the nearby town of Albany ("Albany Village" and the "Gill Tract"), and a field research station several miles to the north in Richmond, California.
The campus is home to several museums including the University of California Museum of Paleontology, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and the Lawrence Hall of Science. The Museum of Paleontology, found in the lobby of the Valley Life Sciences Building, showcases a variety of dinosaur fossils including a complete cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The campus also offers resources for innovation and entrepreneurship, such as the Big Ideas Competition (Blum Center for Developing Economies), SkyDeck, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, and the Berkeley Haas Innovation Lab. The campus is also home to the University of California Botanical Garden, one of the most diverse plant collections in the United States, famous for its large number of rare and endangered species, with more than 12,000 individual species.
Outside of the Bay Area, the university owns various research laboratories and research forests in both northern and southern Sierra Nevada.
Flowing into the main campus are two branches of Strawberry Creek. The south fork enters a culvert upstream of the recreational complex at the mouth of Strawberry Canyon and passes beneath California Memorial Stadium before appearing again in Faculty Glade. It then runs through the center of the campus before disappearing underground at the west end of campus. The north fork appears just east of University House and runs through the glade north of the Valley Life Sciences Building, the original site of the Campus Arboretum.
Trees in the area date from the founding of the university. The campus features numerous wooded areas, including: Founders' Rock, Faculty Glade, Grinnell Natural Area, and the Eucalyptus Grove, which is both the tallest stand of such trees in the world and the tallest stand of hardwood trees in North America.
The campus sits on the Hayward Fault, which runs directly through California Memorial Stadium.
Student life and traditions
The official university mascot is Oski the Bear, who debuted in 1941. Previously, live bear cubs were used as mascots at Memorial Stadium until it was decided in 1940 that a costumed mascot would be a better alternative. Named after the Oski-wow-wow yell, he is cared for by the Oski Committee, whose members have exclusive knowledge of the identity of the costume-wearer.
The University of California Marching Band, which has served the university since 1891, performs at every home football game and at select road games as well. A smaller subset of the Cal Band, the Straw Hat Band, performs at basketball games, volleyball games, and other campus and community events.
The UC Rally Committee, formed in 1901, is the official guardian of California's Spirit and Traditions. Wearing their traditional blue and gold rugbies, Rally Committee members can be seen at all major sporting and spirit events. Committee members are charged with the maintenance of the six Cal flags, the large California banner overhanging the Memorial Stadium Student Section and Haas Pavilion, the California Victory Cannon, Card Stunts and The Big "C" among other duties. The Rally Committee is also responsible for safekeeping of the Stanford Axe when it is in Cal's possession. The Chairman of the Rally Committee holds the title "Custodian of the Axe" while it is in the committee's care.
Overlooking the main Berkeley campus from the foothills in the east, The Big "C" is an important symbol of California school spirit. The Big "C" has its roots in an early 20th-century campus event called "Rush", which pitted the freshman and sophomore classes against each other in a race up Charter Hill that often developed into a wrestling match. It was eventually decided to discontinue Rush and, in 1905, the freshman and sophomore classes banded together in a show of unity to build "the Big C". Owing to its prominent position, the Big "C" is often the target of pranks by rival Stanford University students who paint the Big "C" red and also fraternities and sororities who paint it their organization's colors. One of the Rally Committee's functions is to repaint the Big "C" to its traditional color of King Alfred Yellow.
Cal students invented the college football tradition of card stunts. Then known as Bleacher Stunts, they were first performed during the 1910 Big Game and consisted of two stunts: a picture of the Stanford Axe and a large blue "C" on a white background. The tradition is continued today by the Rally Committee in the Cal student section and incorporates complicated motions, for example tracing the Cal script logo on a blue background with an imaginary yellow pen.
The California Victory Cannon, placed on Tightwad Hill overlooking the stadium, is fired before every football home game, after every score, and after every Cal victory. First used in the 1963 Big Game, it was originally placed on the sidelines before moving to Tightwad Hill in 1971. The only time the cannon ran out of ammunition was during a game against Pacific in 1991, when Cal scored 12 touchdowns.
The Cal Mic Men, a standard at home football games, has recently expanded to involve basketball and volleyball. The traditional role comes from students holding megaphones and yelling, but now includes microphones, a dedicated platform during games, and the direction of the entire student section. Both men and women are allowed to fulfill the role, despite the name.
Berkeley students are offered a variety of housing options, including university-owned or affiliated residences, private residences, fraternities and sororities, and cooperative housing (co-ops). Berkeley students, and those of other local schools, have the option of living in one of the twenty cooperative houses participating in the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC), a nonprofithousing cooperative network consisting of 20 residences and 1250 member-owners.
Fraternities and sororities
About three percent of undergraduate men and nine percent of undergraduate women—or 3,400 of total undergraduates—are active in Berkeley's Greek system. University-sanctioned fraternities and sororities comprise over 60 houses affiliated with four Greek councils.
Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)
The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) is the official student association that controls funding for student groups and organizes on-campus student events. It is considered[by whom?] the most autonomous student government at any university in the U.S. due to its independent funding model, level of university involvement and resources. The two main political parties are "Student Action" and "CalSERVE". The organization was founded in 1887 and has an annual operating budget of $1.7 million (excluding the budget of the Graduate Assembly of the ASUC), in addition to various investment assets. Its alumni include multiple State Senators, Assemblymembers, and White House Administration officials.[circular reference]
The ASUC's Student Union Program, Entertainment, and Recreation Board (SUPERB) is a student-run, non-profit branch providing entertainment for the campus and community. Founded in 1964.
Media and publications
Berkeley's student-run online television station, CalTV, was formed in 2005 and broadcasts online. It is run by students with a variety of backgrounds and majors. Since the mid-2010s, it has been a program of the ASUC.
Berkeley's independent student-run newspaper is The Daily Californian. Founded in 1871, The Daily Cal became independent in 1971 after the campus administration fired three senior editors for encouraging readers to take back People's Park. The Daily Californian has both a print and online edition. Print circulation is about 10,000. The newspaper is an important source of information for students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding City of Berkeley.
Berkeley's FM Student radio station, KALX, broadcasts on 90.7 MHz. It is run largely by volunteers, including both students and community members.
Berkeley also features an assortment of student-run publications:
There are some 94 political student groups on campus, including MEChXA de UC Berkeley, Berkeley ACLU, Berkeley Students for Life, Campus Greens, The Sustainability Team (STEAM), the Berkeley Student Food Collective, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Cal Berkeley Democrats, and the Berkeley College Republicans.
The Residence Hall Assembly (RHA) is the student-led umbrella organization that oversees event planning, legislation, sponsorships and other activities for over 7,2000 on-campus undergraduate residents.
Berkeley students also run a number of consulting groups, including the Berkeley Group, founded in 2003 and affiliated with the Haas School. Students from various concentrations are recruited and trained to work on pro-bono consulting engagements with actual nonprofit clients. Berkeley Consulting, founded in 1996, has served over 140 companies across the high-tech, retail, banking, and non-profit sectors.
ImagiCal has been the college chapter of the American Advertising Federation at Berkeley since the late 1980s. The team competes annually in the National Student Advertising Competition, with students from disparate majors working together on a marketing case underwritten by a corporate sponsor.
Democratic Education at Cal, or DeCal, is a program that promotes the creation of professor-sponsored, student-facilitated classes. DeCal arose out of the 1960s Free Speech movement and was officially established in 1981. The program offers around 150 courses on a vast range of subjects that appeal to the student community, including classes on the Rubik's Cube, blockchain, web design, metamodernism, cooking, Jewish art, 3D animation, and bioprinting.
The campus is home to several a cappella groups, including Drawn to Scale, Artists in Resonance, Berkeley Dil Se, the UC Men's Octet, the California Golden Overtones, DeCadence, and Noteworthy. The University of California Men's Octet was founded in 1948 and features a repertoire of barbershop, doo-wop, contemporary pop, modern alternative, and fight songs. Hewing to tradition, the groups perform weekly under Sather Gate on alternating days. Berkeley hosts a myriad other performing arts groups in comedy, dance, acting and instrumental music, and include jericho!, Improv & Sketch Comedy, The Movement, Taiko drumming, BareStage student musical theater, the Remedy Music Project, Main Stacks, AFX Dance, and TruElement.
Since 1967, students and staff jazz musicians have had an opportunity to perform and study with the University of California Jazz Ensembles. Under the direction of David W. Tucker, who was hired by the Cal Band as a composer, arranger, and associate director, but was later asked to direct the jazz ensembles as it grew in popularity and membership, the group grew rapidly from one big band to multiple big bands, numerous combos, and numerous instrumental classes with multiple instructors. For several decades it hosted the Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival, part of the American Collegiate Jazz Festival, a competitive forum for student musicians. PCCJF brought jazz artists including Hubert Laws, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, and Ed Shaughnessy to the Berkeley campus as performers, clinicians, and adjudicators. The festival later included high school musicians. Michael Wolff and Andy Narell are just a couple of its more famous alumni.
Berkeley student organizations also hosts many other conferences, seminars, and musical and theatrical performances, including the annual Sociological Research Symposium.
Engineering Student Teams
Given UC Berkeley's STEM education and its proximity to Silicon Valley, there are a variety of student-run engineering teams that focus on winning design and engineering competitions.
Berkeley has two prominent amateur rocketry teams: Space Enterprise at Berkeley (SEB) and Space Technologies and Rocketry (STAR). Both have launched solid-fuel sounding rockets and are currently developing liquid propellant rockets.
The university also has two Formula SAE teams: Berkeley Formula Racing and Formula Electric Berkeley. Both of these teams participate in Formula SAE–run competitions, with the former focusing on internal combustion engines and the latter on electric motors. Berkeley has a number of other vehicle teams, including CalSol, CalSMV, and Human Powered Vehicle.
The university's athletic teams are known as the California Golden Bears (often shortened to "Cal Bears" or just "Cal") and are primarily members of the NCAA Division IPac-12 Conference (Pac-12). Cal is also a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several sports not sponsored by the Pac-12 and the America East Conference in women's field hockey. The first school colors, established in 1873 by a committee of students, were blue (specifically Yale Blue) and gold. Yale Blue was originally chosen because many of the university's inaugural faculty were Yale graduates, including Henry Durant, its first president. Blue and gold were specified and made the official colors of the university and the state colors of California in 1955. In 2014, the athletic department specified a darker blue.
The California Golden Bears have won national titles in football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's crew, men's gymnastics, men's tennis, men's and women's swimming, men's water polo, men's Judo, men's track, and men's rugby. In addition, Cal athletes have won individual NCAA titles in track, gymnastics, swimming and tennis. On January 31, 2009, the university's Hurling club made athletic history by defeating Stanford in the first collegiate hurling match ever played on American soil. Berkeley teams have won national championships in baseball (2), men's basketball (2), men's crew (15), women's crew (3), football (5), men's golf (1), men's gymnastics (4), men's lacrosse (1), men's rugby (26), softball (1), men's swimming & diving (4), women's swimming & diving (3), men's tennis (1), men's track & field (1), and men's water polo (13).
California finished in first place in the 2007–08 Fall U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings (Now the NACDA Directors' Cup), a competition measuring the best overall collegiate athletic programs in the country, with points awarded for national finishes in NCAA sports. Cal finished the 2007–08 competition in seventh place with 1119 points.
Most recently, California finished in third place in the 2010–11 NACDA Directors' Cup with 1219.50 points, finishing behind Stanford and Ohio State. This is California's highest ever finish in the Director's Cup.
The Golden Bears' traditional arch-rival is the Stanford Cardinal, and the most anticipated sporting event between the two universities is the annual football match dubbed the Big Game, celebrated with spirit events on both campuses. Since 1933, the winner of the Big Game has been awarded custody of the Stanford Axe. Other sporting games between these rivals have related names such as the Big Splash (water polo) or the Big Kick (soccer).
One of the most famous moments in college football history occurred during the 85th Big Game on November 20, 1982. In what has become known as "the band play" or simply The Play, Cal scored the winning touchdown in the final seconds with a kickoff return that involved a series of laterals and the Stanford marching band rushing onto the field.
Kendall Ross Bean became a master piano rebuilder and concert pianist, Bean first performed on a piano he rebuilt in one of the first classical music videos to be broadcast across the United States on the A&E Network which in 1985 had 18 million cable viewers. This broadcast coincided with MTV emerging as a medium for record production companies to use music videos to promote the albums of Rock and Pop stars. The novelty of a classical music video featuring a solo pianist and the inside view of piano hammers hitting strings, contrasted to the high production rock music videos caught media attention from coast to coast. The video was titled: Kendall Ross Bean: Chopin Polonaise in A Flat.
Cal's Memorial Stadium reopened in September 2012 after renovations. The university incurred a controversial $445 million of debt for the stadium and a new $153 million student athletic center, which it financed with the sale of special stadium endowment seats. The roughly $18 million interest-only annual payments on the debt consumes 20 percent of Cal's athletics' budget; principal repayment begins in 2032 and is scheduled to conclude in 2113.
On July 25, 2019, Berkeley was removed from the U.S. News Best Colleges Ranking for misreporting statistics. Berkeley had originally reported that its two-year average alumni giving rate for fiscal years 2017 and 2016 was 11.6 percent, U.S. News said. The school later told U.S. News the correct average alumni giving rate for the 2016 fiscal year was just 7.9 percent. The school incorrectly overstated its alumni giving data to U.S. News since at least 2014. The alumni giving rate accounts for five percent of the Best Colleges ranking.
Berkeley community members have criticized UC Berkeley's increasing enrollment. Berkeley residents filed a lawsuit alleging that the university's expanding enrollment violated California Environmental Quality Act and that the area lacked the infrastructure to support more students. Critics of the lawsuit accused these community members of NIMBYism. In August 2021, a judge from the Superior Court of Alameda County ruled in favor of the residents, and on March 3, 2022, the California Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the residents, saying that the university needed to freeze its admission rates at 2020–2021 levels. On March 11, 2022, state legislators released a proposal to change CEQA to exempt the university from its restrictions. On March 14, Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law. Berkeley has continued to face a housing shortage.
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