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Chapter 22: The Steady State
The student revolution was not the only problem Hitch and the University faced. With an unfriendly Governor in Sacramento and an economic slowdown in the state, in the late 1960s and early '70s the University's budgets went from bad to worse.
At the same time, the 1970 census data and projections of birth rates and immigration suggested that earlier estimates of continually expanding student enrollments into the 1980s and beyond were overly optimistic. University planning in the 1960s had assumed that enrollment on UC's eight general campuses would eventually go as high as 200,000, with campuses like Irvine, San Diego, and Santa Cruz ultimately topping out at 27,500 each.
In the early 1970s, new projections indicated that the rate of growth would be slower than anticipated and that the University was entering a "steady state." This meant a dramatic and sudden shift in focus from establishing new programs and facilities throughout the University system to developing the special academic strengths, approaches, and environments of each campus. The University's 1972 Growth Plan and its 1974 Academic Plan, which revised total projected enrollment significantly downward, defined these shifts in direction.
By the mid-1970s, the tide of student protest had subsided, and the University, despite its continuing budgetary stresses, was at last on an even keel. Hitch stepped down as President in July 1975, satisfied that the University had weathered the worst of its internal and external threats and that the Board of Regents was once again united. He was a thinker, a planner, and a man of reason in a passionate time, a leader whose honesty and directness had earned him the respect of even the University's harshest critics. Looking back, he said his most important contribution was "the preservation of the Master Plan and the freedom and autonomy which are its corollaries."18 It was a remarkable accomplishment, achieved under punishingly difficult circumstances.
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Last updated 09/29/05.