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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 27: The Booming 1980s

The year 1983 brought the University a striking opportunity. The state's new Governor, George Deukmejian, was the first California chief executive in nearly two decades to make higher education a priority. The University's new President, David Pierpont Gardner, persuaded the Governor and the legislature to approve a 30 percent increase in UC's operating budget in his first year, the largest single increase in a state-funded UC budget in the University's history. It was a turning point for the struggling University. Among other things, Gardner's skill and success in making the case for University support during his first few years as President wiped out the 16 percent lag in faculty salaries between UC and the institutions with which it competed most vigorously for faculty.

David Gardner (1983-92) came to UC from the University of Utah, where he had been President for the previous ten years. He had a long history with the University of California, however, including service as a faculty member and Vice Chancellor at Santa Barbara during its period of greatest student turmoil. He had also served as a Vice President under Charles Hitch. Just before his selection as UC President he had co-chaired a national commission on K-12 public education whose April 1983 report, A Nation at Risk, galvanized the largest effort in a generation to raise the dismal performance of U.S. public schools. He was low-key in manner, precise in speech, analytical in his approach to problems, and impeccably prepared.

With the California economy emerging from its doldrums, the 1984-85 budget that Gardner successfully negotiated was the first of a series of strong budgets. Over the next six years UC established three new professional schools at San Diego, Riverside, and Santa Barbara; started major new research centers and initiatives, including the universitywide Humanities Research Institute at Irvine and the Center for German and European Studies at Berkeley; and expanded research into issues related to K-12 education. Steps to strengthen undergraduate teaching included a program of seminars for lower-division students and a major report on increasing the weight given to teaching in the University's faculty reward system. After a long drought of meager state capital funds, construction on UC campuses boomed: between 1983 and 1993 the University's capital budget rose nearly Wfteenfold, from $16.5 million to $240 million.

During the Gardner years, the University awarded its one-millionth degree, and five of its faculty members earned Nobel Prizes.




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Last updated 09/29/05.