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Chapter 15: Progress and Problems
Despite its lingering effects, the loyalty oath crisis did not check the dramatic rise in the University's academic standing during the postwar years. The faculty had long excelled in the number of recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships. By the end of the 1950s, UC led every other university and university system in the nation in the number of faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
The library at Berkeley was exceeded only by the Library of Congress and Harvard University for the quality of its collections. The UCLA library, one of the youngest in the country, was also one of the most rapidly growing, having passed the one-million mark in 1953.
Physical development of the campuses, which had lagged during the Depression and been further delayed by war, boomed during the 1940s and '50s. It had to, for the University anticipated an immediate swell in the form of huge veteran enrollments and a subsequent period of sustained growth.
Between 1944 and 1958, the University acquired the Santa Barbara campus and developed liberal arts colleges at Davis and Riverside. The medical school at Los Angeles was begun in that period. Meanwhile, graduate programs were expanding swiftly and there was great demand for postdoctoral training in the medical and physical sciences.
In California and throughout the nation a new tide was running in student demand for college admission. At the beginning of Sproul's long presidency, new state and community colleges had begun springing up everywhere. Each session of the California legislature brought greater pressure and competition for new campuses and budgets. President Sproul recognized that, unless means could be found for their orderly development, the institutions of public higher education faced a potentially disastrous course of competition.
He saw this as a national problem, but one that held particular urgency for rapidly growing California. In 1931, he had persuaded the Regents and the legislature to provide matching funds for a study by the Carnegie Foundation. The result was one of three studies undertaken during ensuing decades—the other two were the 1947 Strayer Committee Report and the 1953 Restudy of the Needs of California in Higher Education—that led, finally, to the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California.
Robert Gordon Sproul retired in 1958. During his twenty-eight years in office, many tried to induce him to consider posts that ranged from the presidency of a bank to directorship of the Prune and Apricot Growers organization to political office in the U.S. Congress or even the White House. Although he recognized these offers as a tribute to his leadership, he once described them as a "nuisance." He was—first, last, and always—President of the University of California.
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Last updated 09/29/05.