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San Diego: Historical Overview

The San Diego campus of the University of California had its origins in the closing years of the nineteenth century, when zoologists at Berkeley, setting out to establish a marine station on the Pacific, selected a site at La Jolla.

The Scripps Institution
Land and a building were given the Scripps Institution of Marine Biology by Mr. E. W. Scripps and Miss E. B. Scripps in 1909. In 1912, about a quarter section of land and improvements were deeded to the Regents of the University. By 1925, the scope of the activity had broadened and the name was changed to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

From this beginning of a gift of land and a single building, a faculty eminent for its achievements emerged. The institution became a mecca for marine scientists from all over the world and was known as the foremost center of oceanographic research and instruction in the world.

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The Campus Is Born
In 1955, the California State Legislature requested the Board of Regents to investigate the desirability of establishing a branch of the University at San Diego. At their July 18, 1958 meeting, the Regents authorized the establishment at La Jolla of an Institute of Technology and Engineering. The action followed resolutions presented in August, 1956, for a graduate teaching and research activity in science and technology and in August, 1957, for a general campus of the University in the San Diego area.

The Campus Expands
These actions were designed to help fill the need for expansion of the University to meet current and predicted population growth. The emphasis on graduate work in science, technology, and engineering resulted from the special needs expressed by San Diego civic, industry, and service groups and the greatly increased demands for scientific education and research because of their importance to national security.

Evidence of strong local support for the University's expansion plans in San Diego was reflected by the action of the city council (and overwhelmingly approved by the voters in the 1956 and 1958 elections) in offering the University, free of cost, more than 500 acres of choice city-owned land which had a value of several millions of dollars. The University administration was authorized to seek assurances from the federal government that additional adjacent land would be given to the campus.

At their meeting on August 15, 1958, the Regents selected Roger Revelle, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 1951, to head the new facility.

On April 17, 1959, the Regents voted to change the name of the Institute of Technology and Engineering to the School of Science and Engineering. The new school was to provide instruction and research in mathematics, physics, chemistry, the earth and biological sciences, and engineering. It was established, according to the Regents' resolution, with the understanding that it "later may be converted into one or departments of instruction and research. The faculty of the school should be appointed with the expectation that they eventually will carry a full teaching load and will engage in undergraduate instruction as well as in graduate instruction as the need arises."

A month later, at its May 15 meeting, the Board of Regents approved the development of the La Jolla site as a general University campus to be known as the University of California, La Jolla.

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Academic Development of San Diego
The first faculty appointment for the School of Science and Engineering was made in July, 1957, and was supported by a large grant of funds from the General Dynamics Corporation. By June 30, 1959, seven faculty appointments had been made and a total of 36 appointments had been approved for the 1959-60 fiscal year. The school enrolled its first graduate students in 1960 in the physical sciences.

From this beginning, the program was rapidly developed in the humanities and social sciences. By the mid-1960's, research ranged from the problems of cosmochemistry to studies of seventeenth-century philosophy. The teaching program reflected a broad spectrum of learning, with offerings in aerospace and mechanical engineering sciences, applied electrophysics, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, economics, history, languages, linguistics, literature, philosophy, physics, and psychology.

The Regents on November 18, 1960, selected the University of California, San Diego, as the name for the general campus in the La Jolla-San Diego area. At the same time they voted that the Scripps Institution of Oceanography should continue to be known as the University of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla.

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Early Buildings
The building space situation was critically deficient until two new buildings on the Scripps campus were completed during 1960. On February 17, 1961, Herbert F. York, a physicist who had been appointed director of defense research and engineering by President Eisenhower, was appointed the first chancellor of the San Diego campus. York assumed the new office on July 1, 1961.

The School of Science and Engineering was able to move from the Scripps Institution buildings and undergo expansion during the summer of 1963, when the first construction on the former city-owned land, a seven-story science and administration building, was completed.

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San Diego in the 1960's
When, according to its master plan, San Diego reached its growth of 27,500 students by 1995, the campus was planned to consist of 12 interrelated colleges, each of which wwould enroll about 2,300 students. To reflect the changing nature of the rapidly growing institution, the Board of Regents, at its October 18, 1963 meeting, approved the changing of the name School of Science and Engineering to the First College.

The campus had already branched into fields other than science and engineering with the establishment of Departments of Philosophy and Literature during 1963. In the fall of 1964, the campus opened for undergraduates offering a basic lower division curriculum preparing students for upper division majors in the humanities, the social sciences, the biological sciences, the physical sciences, and mathematics. A total of 181 freshmen enrolled in the pioneering undergraduate class.

In November, 1963, for reasons of health, York asked to be relieved of his duties as chancellor. A year later, in December, 1964, John S. Galbraith, vice-chancellor and professor of history at San Diego, was named to succeed York. Galbraith, formerly professor of history and chairman of the department at Los Angeles, was formally inaugurated as chancellor of the San Diego campus on November 5, 1965.

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Colleges and Schools
On January 22, 1965, the Board of Regents voted to honor the educator and scientist who had done much of the early planning and ground work for the emerging campus. By order of the Regents, the First College was renamed Revelle College. Revelle had served as director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography for 13 years and had been named University dean of research in 1962. He resigned both posts in September, 1964, to become director of the Center for Population Studies at Harvard University. By the mid-1960's, Revelle College was a complex of six major classrooms and laboratory buildings surrounding a central plaza.

The Second College began to organize in 1964 and was scheduled to accept its first students in the fall, of 1967. It was renamed John Muir College in April, 1966. It was centered at the former Camp Matthews Marine Corps Rifle Range, which was deeded to the San Diego campus by the federal government in 1963.

The School of Medicine on the San Diego campus, the third medical school in the University system, began organization with the appointment of Dr. Joseph Stokes, III, as dean in 1964. The school planned to accept its first group of 32 students in the fall of 1968.

San Diego Land Holdings
The San Diego campus was situated on a site of nearly 1,000 acres that spread from the sea front, where the Scripps institution was located, across a large portion of adjacent Torrey Pines Mesa high above the Pacific. Much of the land was wooded with graceful eucalyptus; to the east and north lay mountains, to the west the sea. Land holdings operated by San Diego, including the former San Diego County Hospital, totalled 1,722 acres.


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