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University of California, Berkeley

UCB is also an abbreviation for the Upright Citizens Brigade sketch comedy group.

The University of California, Berkeley (also known as Cal, Berkeley, UCB, or UC Berkeley) is a public, coeducational university situated in the foothills of Berkeley, California to the east of San Francisco Bay, overlooking the Golden Gate and its bridge. It is the oldest campus of the University of California and is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

University of California, Berkeley

Seal of UC Berkeley (Trademark of UC Regents)

Motto Fiat Lux
(Latin, "Let There Be Light")
Established March 23, 1868
School type Public
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
Location Berkeley, California, USA
Enrollment 23,000 undergraduate,
10,000 graduate
Faculty 1,900
Endowment US$1.82 billion
Campus Urban, 1,232 acres (5 km²)
Sports teams Golden Bears


In 1866, the land which is now the Berkeley campus was first purchased by the private College of California (established by Congregational minister Henry Durant in 1855). However, lacking the funds to operate, the College of California merged with state-run Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College, forming the University of California on March 23, 1868, with Durant becoming the first president. The university first opened in Oakland in 1869. In 1873, with the completion of North and South Halls, the university relocated to the Berkeley campus with 167 men and 222 women students enrolled.

Through the middle decades of the 20th century, the Berkeley campus enjoyed a golden age in the physical, chemical and biological sciences. During that period, with Professor Ernest O. Lawrence's invention of the cyclotron, researchers affiliated with the campus discovered a great number of chemical elements heavier than uranium, the only ones known at that time, garnering a number of Nobel Prizes for these efforts along the way. Two of the elements, Berkelium and Californium, were named in honor of the university. Another two, Lawrencium and Seaborgium, were named in honor of faculty members Ernest O. Lawrence and Glenn T. Seaborg.

During World War II, Lawrence's Radiation Laboratory in the hills above Berkeley began to contract with the U.S. Army in efforts to help understand the fundamental science needed to develop the atomic bomb (including the then-secret discovery of plutonium by Seaborg). Physics professor J. Robert Oppenheimer was named scientific head of the Manhattan Project in 1942. The University agreed to manage the project (without knowing its purpose) the same year, a relationship which has endured to the present (though not without its strains).

During the McCarthy era in 1949, the Board of Regents adopted an anti-communist loyalty oath to be signed by all University of California employees. A number of faculty members firmly took a stand against the oath requirement and were eventually dismissed. They were reinstated with full honor and back-pay ten years later; one of them, Edward C. Tolman -- the noted comparative psychologist -- now has a building on the campus named after him (it houses the departments of psychology and education). The loyalty oath is still required for all employees of the University today, however.

In 1952 the University of California became an entity separate from the Berkeley campus as part of a major restructuring of the UC system, and each campus was given its own Chancellor, and greater autonomy.

The University gained notoriety worldwide nearly a century after its founding for the student body's active protests against United States involvement in the Vietnam War. This period of social unrest on campus could be traced to the Free Speech Movement, which originated on the Berkeley campus in 1964 and inspired the political and moral outlook of a generation.

Today, the majority of students at UC Berkeley are less politically active than their predecessors and have political opinions similar to students at most other American universities. However, a small number of outspoken radical groups continue to flourish and thrive.

Campus architecture and architects

The campus is 1,232 acres (5 km²) in its entirety, though the main campus is on the western 178 acres (0.7 km²). Despite its urban setting, the campus manages to maintain a surprisingly park-like atmosphere, crossed by two creeks and including the tallest stand of hardwood trees in North America. Overlooking the main campus on the east side are several research units, most notably the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and the Lawrence Hall of Science. Much of the rugged upper hill territory is still undeveloped. Residential Halls and administrative buildings spill out into the city of Berkeley, particularly to the south of the campus.

The campus and its surrounding community are home to a number of notable buildings by turn-of-the-20th century campus architect John Galen Howard , his peer Bernard Maybeck (best known for the Palace of Fine Arts), and Maybeck's student, Julia Morgan. Later buildings were designed by prominent architects such as Charles Willard Moore (Haas School of Business) and Joseph Esherick (Wurster Hall).

Very little of the early University of California (c. 1868-1903) remains, with the Victorian Second Empire style South Hall (1873) and Piedmont Avenue (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted) being notable exceptions. What is considered the historic campus today was the eventual result of the 1898 "International Competition for the Phoebe Hearst Architectural Plan for the University of California," funded by the mother of William Randolph Hearst and initially held in the Dutch city of Antwerp (eleven finalists were judged again in San Francisco, 1899). This unprecedented competition came about from one-upmanship between the prominent Hearst and Stanford families of the Bay Area. In response to the founding of Stanford University, the Hearst Family decided to "adopt" the fledgling University of California and develop their own world-class institution. Although a Frenchman, Emile Bénard, won the competition, he disliked the "uncultured" San Francisco atmosphere and resigned. He was replaced by the fourth place winner and the first campus architect, John Galen Howard. Only University House , designed by architect Albert Pissis and then home to the President of the University of California, was placed according to the Bénard plan. (It is today the home of UC Berkeley's Chancellor.)

Sather Gate marks the original southern entrance to the campus, and now the entrance to Sproul Plaza
Sather Gate marks the original southern entrance to the campus, and now the entrance to Sproul Plaza

Much of the older campus is built in the stately Beaux-Arts Classical style, which was regarded as the most cultured, beautiful, and "scientific" style by the cultural establishment at the time of the competition, and thus was the style preferred by John Galen Howard and Phoebe Hearst (who paid his salary). With the support of University President Benjamin Ide Wheeler , Howard designed over twenty buildings, which set the tone for campus up until it post-World War II expansion in the 1950s and 60s. These included the Greek Theatre, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, Doe Memorial Library , California Hall, Wheeler Hall, (Old) Le Conte Hall, Gilman Hall, Haviland Hall, Wellman Hall, Sather Gate, and the 307-foot Sather Tower (nicknamed "the Campanile" after St. Mark's Campanile in Venice). Buildings he regarded as temporary, non-academic, or not particularly "serious" were designed in shingle or Collegiate Gothic styles; North Gate Hall, Dwinelle Annex, and the Men's Faculty Club (later added to by Maybeck), and Stephens Hall are examples of the former and latter, respectively. Many of his best buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Bowles Hall was built in 1928 as California's oldest state-owned dormitory, and is also listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

John Galen Howard retired in 1924, his support base gone with both Phoebe Hearst's death and President Wheeler's resignation in 1919. William Randolph Hearst, seeking to memorialize his mother, contributed to Howard's resignation by commissioning Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan to design a series of dramatic buildings on the southern part of the campus. These were originally to include a huge domed auditorium, a museum, an art school, and a women's gymnasium, all arranged on an eastward esplanade and classically oriented towards the campanile. However, only the Hearst Women's Gymnasium was completed before the Great Depression, at which point Hearst decided to focus on his estate at San Simeon instead.

View of campus looking north, with Evans Hall and Sather Tower on the right. South Hall is the brick building in the center.
View of campus looking north, with Evans Hall and Sather Tower on the right. South Hall is the brick building in the center.

The dramatic increase in enrollment during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s led to the rapid expansion of the campus, beginning with the University's appropriation of the north end of Telegraph Avenue to form Sproul Plaza and headed on its east side by Sproul Hall, a new neoclassical building for the campus administration. However, the administration moved out of Sproul and into California Hall, situated in the heart of campus, after students barricaded themselves in Sproul during the 1964 Free Speech Movement. (Today, Sproul Hall houses Student Services and the Admissions Office, and Sproul Plaza is the center of student activities.) A series of huge Brutalist concrete buildings were also built to provide much-needed housing, lab, office, and classroom space, including Evans Hall, Cory Hall, Wurster Hall, Davis Hall, McCone Hall, Zellerbach Hall, the undergraduate dorms Units 1, 2, and 3, and others.

Gray-green Evans Hall is the tallest instructional building on the campus and houses the offices of faculty in mathematics, statistics, and economics, which once included former Assistant Professor of Mathematics Ted Kaczynski—famously known as the Unabomber. Along with Wurster Hall, Evans Hall is widely considered to be one of the ugliest buildings on campus. The most recent campus development plan lists Evans Hall as a candidate for demolition within the next fifteen years. Cory Hall, the electrical engineering building, was the site of two attacks by the Unabomber in 1982 and 1985. Its neighbor Soda Hall (computer science), is one of the few classroom buildings on campus with showers. It was completed in August 1994, at the cost of $35.5 million, raised entirely from private gifts.

Recent developments include the new Jean Hargrove Music Library and the completion of funding for the planned Chang-Lin Tien Center, which will be the fourth free-standing music library and the first free-standing building devoted to East Asian Studies, respectively, in the United States.


The north side of Doe Library with Memorial Glade in the foreground.
The north side of Doe Library with Memorial Glade in the foreground.

Berkeley has graduated more students who would go on to earn doctorates than any other university in the country. Its enrollment of National Merit Scholar s is third in the nation. According to the National Research Council, Berkeley ranks first nationally in the number of graduate programs in the top 10 in their fields (97 percent) and first nationally in the number of "distinguished" programs for the scholarship of the faculty (32 programs). With more than 7,000 courses in nearly 300 degree programs, the university awards about 5,500 bachelor's degrees, 2,000 master's degrees, 900 doctorates and 200 law degrees each year.

The University currently boasts 223 American Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellows, 3 Fields Medal holders, 83 Fulbright Scholars, 139 Guggenheim Fellows, 8 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 15 MacArthur Fellows, 83 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 125 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 8 Nobel Prize winners, 3 Pulitzer Prize winners, 70 Sloan Fellows , and 7 Wolf Prize winners among a bevy of distinguished faculty.

With about 9.2 million volumes held in 18 campus libraries, UC Berkeley library holdings rank fourth in North America, after the Library of Congress, Harvard University, and Yale University.



The position of Chancellor was created in 1952 during the reorganization and expansion of the University of California; there have since been ten chancellors:

  1. Clark Kerr (1952-1958)
  2. Glenn T. Seaborg (1958-1961)
  3. Edward W. Strong (1961-1965)
  4. Martin E. Meyerson (1965, acting)
  5. Roger W. Heyns (1965-1971)
  6. Albert H. Bowker (1971-1980)
  7. Ira Michael Heyman (1980-1990)
  8. Chang-Lin Tien (1990-1997)
  9. Robert M. Berdahl (1997-2004)
  10. Robert J. Birgeneau (2004-present)

Colleges and schools

Haas School of Business
Haas School of Business

Berkeley's 130-plus academic departments and programs are organized into 14 colleges and schools. ("Colleges" are both undergraduate and graduate, while "Schools" are graduate-only, the exception being the School of Business.):

Contributions to Computer Science

Cal has nurtured a number of key technologies associated with the early development of the Internet and the Open Source Software movement. The original Berkeley Software Distribution, commonly known as BSD Unix, was assembled in 1977 by Bill Joy as a graduate student in the computer science department. Bill Joy also developed the original version of vi. PostgreSQL emerged from faculty research begun in the late 1970s. SendMail was developed at Berkeley in 1981. BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain package) was written by a team of graduate students around the same time period. The Tcl programming language and the Tk GUI toolkit were developed by faculty member John Ousterhout in 1988. SPICE and espresso, popular tools for IC Designers, were also invented at Berkeley under the direction of Professor Donald Pederson.

Perhaps the most pervasive contribution to computing from UCB has been the algorithms and analysis of floating-point arithmetic, led by Professor William Kahan. These include extensive and ongoing contributions to the IEEE 754 standard.

In 1992, Pei-Yuan Wei, an undergraduate, created ViolaWWW, one of the first graphically-based web browsers. ViolaWWW was the first browser to have embedded scriptable objects, stylesheets, and tables. In the spirit of Open Source, he merely donated the code to Sun Microsystems, thus inspiring Java applets. ViolaWWW would also inspire researchers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications to create the Mosaic web browser.

SETI@home was one of the first widely disseminated distributed computing projects, allowing hobbyists and enthusiasts to participate in scientific research by donating unused computer processor cycles in the form of a screen saver.

In an interesting example of the confluence of intellectual ideas, many of the arguments for the efficacy of Open Source software development, and of the Wikipedia project itself, find parallels in writings on urban planning and architecture published in the late 1970s by Christopher Alexander, a Berkeley professor of architecture. Across campus around that same time period, John Searle, a Berkeley professor of philosophy, introduced a celebrated critique of artificial intelligence using the metaphor of a Chinese Room.

List of research projects conducted at Berkeley:

  • Daedalus project - Combine intelligent adaptive applications with smart networking software that can multiplex connections over a wide variety of different networking technologies.
  • Digital library project
  • GiST - A Generalized Search Tree for Secondary Storage
  • Harmonia research project - open interactive programming tools
  • Sather - Object oriented language derivered from Eiffel programming language
  • Not Another Completely Heuristic Operating System - Instructional software for teaching undergraduate, and potentially graduate, level operating systems courses.

Sports and traditions

Cal Logo
Cal Logo

Cal's sports teams compete as the California Golden Bears. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A, and in the Pacific Ten Conference. The annual football "Big Game" between the Bears and the rival Stanford Cardinal is the most important game on Cal's schedule. The winner of this game gains custody of the Axe. The 85th Big Game on November 20, 1982 saw one of the most dramatic last-minute plays in college football history (see Big Game).

Cal'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 University of California Marching Band has served the university since 1891, and performs at every football game and many other sports games and spirit activities. The university also has a Rally Committee, which is in charge of most aspects of the Cal Spirit.

The official school colors, Yale Blue and California Gold, were established in 1874. Yale Blue was chosen because most of the original faculty were Yale University graduates. Gold was selected to represent the Golden State of California.

The official mascot is Oski the Bear, who first debuted in 1941. Previously, live bear cubs were used as mascots at Memorial Stadium. It was decided in 1940 that a costumed mascot would be a better alternative to a live bear. Named after the Oski-wow-wow yell, he is cared for by the Oski Committee. The wearer of the costume is kept a secret. It is the tradition to have the basketball player with the largest feet donate his shoes for Oski to wear. As is common with team mascots in general, Oski has been involved in several physical confrontations over the years with other teams' mascots.

The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) is the student government organization that controls funding for student groups and organizes on-campus student events.

Lists of distinguished Berkeley people

External links

Official websites


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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45