UCOP > A Brief History of the University of California > Access and Excellence >
 
 

The Master Plan

Decentralizing the University

Student Unrest

The Steady State

Planning for Hard Times

The Tax Revolt

Bakke vs. The Regents of the University of California

New Intellectual Horizons

The Booming 1980s

A Pacific Rim State

Growth Again

Conflicts and Controversies

The University Under Fire


 

Chapter 23: Planning for Hard Times

The problems the University confronted in the mid-1970s were less dramatic than those of the previous decade but no less challenging. A new Governor in Sacramento did not mean renewed support for UC; every year was a struggle. And the increasingly diverse ethnic and racial composition of California's population constituted a social and educational imperative that had to be addressed.

The new President of the University, David S. Saxon (1975- 83), had a reputation for independence, integrity, and a strong vision of the University and its mission. As a young assistant professor of physics, Saxon was one of thirty-one UC faculty members who were dismissed in 1950 for refusing to sign the loyalty oath. When the oath was declared invalid two years later, Saxon returned to the physics department at UCLA and to a career marked by increasingly responsible academic and administrative posts, culminating in his selection as fourteenth President.

His agenda for the University was straightforward. What made the University of California unique, he said, was its "endemic excellence"—the high quality of its academic programs across large and small campuses alike. Not all campuses were at the same stage of development or the same level of distinction, but taken together they displayed a consistent academic strength that no other large multicampus system had ever achieved.

In an era marked by budget limitations and uncertain enrollments, Saxon argued, the University had a challenging twofold task: to maintain the "intellectual vitality and zest" of the mature campuses like Berkeley, UCLA, Davis, and San Francisco, while also ensuring that the University's traditional expectations of quality were met and extended at the younger and still-developing campuses at Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. Three years into the Saxon administration, political developments in the state were to make that task even more challenging.

 


 
 


 

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Last updated 09/29/05.