The University of California

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This week marks the anniversary of the signing of the Organic Act by Governor Henry Haight in California in 1868, which created the University of California. The first campus in Oakland opened shortly thereafter but was moved to a new location in Berkeley in 1873. The first years were filled with danger--there was much discussion of what role it should fill. In 1878, the California Second Constitutional Convention seriously discussed shutting down the school and founding a school that was dedicated to practical matters, dismissing most of the arts and classics as superfluous! Fortunately, the new constitution established the University as an independent public institution with the power to define largely its own destiny.  

There were still many questions to answer. Should they teach literature? Should the medical school be folded into the main campus? What role should the faculty play in decision-making? The questions were endless as the school developed. 

Fortunately, the leaders of the state and the school provided a lot of good answers to all the questions that arose in the coming decades. Various schools were added as the need arose; the Southern Branch was added in 1919 and became UCLA in 1927. Today there are more than 220,000 students in the system. The University of California Berkeley would become a great institution of learning and the University of California System would become the model for others to follow. 

Let us celebrate the foresight of the leaders of California 140 years ago.

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This page contains a single entry by Carl Tyson, CEO published on March 25, 2009 10:49 AM.

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