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A New President and an Economic Crisis

The Debate over Admissions


Research and Economic Growth

New Directions for Outreach

Tidal Wave II and New Approaches to Admission

Achievement versus Aptitude


The University Past and Present

University of California Campuses

Presidents of the University of California

Chief Campus Officers and Chancellors of the University of California


Chapter 34: Rankings

With the funding compact with the Governor in place, President Peltason's most important goal had been achieved. He had brought the University through three of the worst budget years in its history, all the while addressing its problems with an integrity and warm humanity that won UC many friends. He retired in October 1995, telling the Regents in his farewell remarks that the University had done far more than survive the dire years of the early 1990s. In the academic domain, he said, "the University of California has few equals and no superiors."

His judgment was validated that same month by the National Research Council (NRC), the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The NRC's comprehensive study of Ph.D. programs in American universities rated Berkeley first in the nation, San Diego tenth, and UCLA twelfth (the other nine universities in the top twelve were all private institutions). Most remarkable were UC's rankings as a system-more than half of its 229 graduate programs evaluated by the NRC were in the top twenty in the nation.25 As if to echo this testimony to the University's distinction, three Nobel Prizes went to UC faculty members in October as well.

Two years later, an analysis of faculty research achievements at more than 200 U.S. institutions—The Rise of American Research Universities—gave the University equally glowing reviews, emphasizing the academic quality to be found across its nine campuses. All included departments and programs of national or international stature; Santa Barbara, Riverside, and Santa Cruz were cited for the "astonishing" speed with which they had risen to national rank among research universities.26 The philosophy of cultivating nine different but high-quality research universities—what David Saxon defined as "endemic excellence"—had created something new in the world of higher education: a great public university whose distinction is not limited to one or two flagship campuses but is genuinely universitywide. The University of California had come of age as a multicampus system.


25. Marvin L. Goldberger et al., eds., Research Doctorate Programs in the United States: Continuity and Change, National Research Council, 1995.

26. Hugh Davis Graham and Nancy Diamond, The Rise of American Research Universities: Elites and Challengers in the Postwar Era (Baltimore and London, 1997), p. 149.





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