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It's a little short on ivy-covered halls, but long on fragrant eucalyptus, provocative art, and students and faculty so brainy it’s scary sometimes.

Although the University of California San Diego marks its 40th anniversary this year, its history goes back to the turn of the century. Make that the last century. And while you may think that 40 lacks a bit of the cachet of, say, 25 or 50, it’s fully appropriate to consider UCSD as a 97-year-old institution. So here is an abbreviated view of UCSD's near century, with commentary by some folks who have seen most of it, and a forecast of the future by Chancellor Robert Dynes.


1903 - E. W. Scripps donates $500 and Ellen Browning Scripps $1,500 to the Marine Biological Association of San Diego. Its first lab is in the boathouse of the Hotel del Coronado. By 1907, she will pledge another $10,000 and enshrine the association in her will.

1912 - The UC era begins in San Diego when the university takes over the Scripps Institution of Biological Research.

1925 - The institution's name is changed to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. A bid to leverage SIO into a full-fledged UC campus is trumped by a more attractive offer from Los Angeles.

1931 - Roger Revelle signs on as a research assistant.

1941 - SIO takes on war-related work, especially to detect German U-boats. Walter Munk and Harald Sverdrup develop a system for forecasting waves. It plays a key role in planning the D-Day invasion.

1945 - Revelle, now a naval officer, keeps war-related research funds flowing SIO's way.

1948 - As chief oceanographer for the military's postwar nuclear tests in the Pacific, Revelle participates in expeditions which discover that the earth's surface is made of shifting plates.

1950 - Revelle becomes director of SIO.

1951 - Revelle and some colleagues buy 38 nearby acres to enable present and future SIO researchers to build homes. The La Jolla Real Estate Brokers Association tries to enforce old deed restrictions limiting ownership only to white Christians. Revelle dissuades them.

1955 - Local leaders welcome a state study on expanding the UC to San Diego. They disagree on whether the new campus should be a technical research institute, such as SIO, or a more broadly based school including undergraduates. Industrialist John Jay Hopkins, founder of General Atomic, makes a $1 million pledge to build the former. The City Council offers free land for the latter.

1956 - The UC Regents approve a "graduate program in science and technology" with enough undergraduate teaching to support it. The compromise wins both the General Atomic grant and city voters' approval for free land.

1957 - Revelle and SIO colleague Hans Suess identify what is later called the "greenhouse effect." The UC Regents tour three potential sites: Balboa Park, Lake Murray and Torrey Pines Mesa. Revelle puts on a full court press for La Jolla.

1958 - Revelle lures Nobel laureate Harold Urey, a physicist, to San Diego from the University of Chicago. His arrival bestows instant credibility on the new school.

1959 - Regents approve the Torrey Pines Mesa site for the development of the University of California, La Jolla.


1960 - Revelle and colleagues continue to raid eastern universities for their research stars. Regents dash La Jollans' hopes for their own university, changing the campus name to UC San Diego.

1961 - Physicist Herbert York, late of the Manhattan Project, becomes UCSD's first chancellor.

1962 - Land from Camp Matthews is signed over to UCSD. The Regents approve a new medical school. The first plan for the campus features a 30,000-seat bullring and a 350-foot tower sounding ship's bells every quarter hour.

1963 - School of Science and Engineering is renamed First College. Physics professor Maria Mayer becomes the second woman in history to win a Nobel Prize. York resigns as chancellor.

1964 - First College opens to 185 undergraduates, who pay $220 in annual fees. Most students - former high school whiz kids - are shocked by the difficulty of the work, but manage to establish an enduring tradition, the watermelon drop. John Galbraith, UCLA historian, is named UCSD's second chancellor. He vows to build a library as a way to boost the humanities on the science-first campus and begin its development into a full-fledged university.

1965 - Wary that potential students will bypass UCSD, faculty lightens up on some course work. First College is renamed for Roger Revelle. A few dozen students protest American involvement in the Dominican Republic. The San Diego Union calls them "kooky" and "Commies." Galbraith defends the students' right to "free inquiry and free expression." Political philosopher Herbert Marcuse joins the faculty.

1966 - UCSD leases County Hospital in Hillcrest, and the Medical School welcomes its first students.

1967 - San Diego police raid the campus, nabbing three students but no drugs. Students raise a Viet Minh flag on campus, an act Galbraith deems free speech. A local legislator frets that the Viet Cong have arrived on the outskirts of La Jolla. Second College, now Muir, welcomes its first students, and a third college is approved. UCSD Extension is created.

1968 - UCSD graduates its first class of 124, who vote to skip academic regalia. Galbraith flees La Jolla for Cambridge. The campus is wracked by anti-war demonstrations. Protesters' activities draw fire from conservatives on and off campus, and from the studious, who demand scholarly peace. In the spirit of the times, some 50 student athletes, enraged over the demise of the football program, demand a physical education major and other benefits. William McGill, an experimental psychologist, becomes UCSD's third chancellor. Two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling joins the chemistry faculty. UCSD wins its first full five-year accreditation.

1969 - At a meeting in Berkeley shielded by National Guardsmen, the Regents censure McGill for defending Herbert Marcuse. For social conservatives everywhere, including Gov. Reagan, Marcuse is the focus of evil in the modern world. McGill has defended Marcuse citing academic freedom. San Diego-based regent DeWitt Higgs reads a message of support from local leaders, and Reagan withdraws. Regents impose student tuition for the first time.


1970 - A student dies after setting himself afire to protest Vietnam. Students prevent McGill from entering his office, and occupy Muir College to oppose defense research. McGill ends his "year of the monkey" to assume leadership of Columbia. Founding chancellor Herbert York returns in an acting capacity. Third College opens to 160 students. Its purpose is to redress past inequities forced on minority students and faculty, and to give students a greater role in academic governance. A conservative "Committee to Save the University" is formed in protest, and draws national attention. The distinctive Central Library opens.

1971 - The Academic Senate urges UCSD to end its classified defense research. Biologist William McElroy, director of the National Science Foundation, becomes UCSD's fourth chancellor.

1972 - As Reagan's fiscal squeeze tightens, UCSD drops its plans for a hospital on campus. The humanities, including philosophy, history and literature, begin to decline in faculty and student numbers. The UCSD Foundation is formed, beginning with an $850,000 donation of artwork. In less than 10 years, its assets grow to $60 million. The Center for Music Experiment (renamed the Center for Research on Computing and the Arts) opens.

1973 - A community-based Board of Overseers is established by McElroy to advise the campus.

1974 - Fourth College opens. It is practical and preprofessional, with emphasis on writing. It will soon become UCSD's second most popular college.

1975 - Mandeville Center opens.

1976 - After 10 years of meetings, a campus signage plan is approved. The Chargers spend their first summer on campus.

1977 - Fourth College is renamed for Earl Warren.

1979 - McElroy resigns as chancellor after numerous power struggles with faculty.


1980 - Richard Atkinson is named fifth chancellor of UCSD. The federal Bayh-Dole Act is enacted, allowing technologies developed with federal funds to be licensed to private companies. The act will anchor the technology-transfer wave that transforms San Diego industry into a biotech and telecom powerhouse.

1981 - UCSD buys University Hospital from the County and renames it UCSD Medical Center. The first endowed faculty chairs are established, in Judaic studies and computer sciences.

1982 - Mandel Weiss Center for Performing Arts opens.

1983 - Nikki de Saint Phalle's "Sun God" becomes the first sculpture in the Stuart Collection.

1984 - The Center for Molecular Genetics is established, boosting UCSD to the forefront of biotechnology research.

1985 - Private giving to UCSD reaches $47 million a year. San Diego Supercomputer Center opens, one of only five in the country. The National Academy of Sciences ranks UCSD's graduate programs among the top 25 in the nation. The Connect program is founded to link local high-tech entrepreneurs with university resources.

1986 - Powell Structural Systems Laboratory is dedicated.

1988 - Fifth College opens to emphasize international studies and foreign languages. A technology transfer program is established and School of Architecture opens.

1989 - The Price Center opens, providing the campus with a "downtown" of its own. The Central Library holds 1.2 million volumes.


1990 - The campus is second in the nation in the amount of federal research dollars received.

1991 - Roger Revelle dies at UCSD Medical Center. An Orange County congressman demands an investigation of UCSD admissions policies on the grounds that a "quota" had been established for minority students. Federal investigators find the charges unfounded.

1992 - SIO opens the Stephen Birch Aquarium and Museum.

1993 - Atkinson orders a stepping-up of campus affirmative action efforts. Thornton Hospital opens. It is oriented to well-insured and well-to-do patients, as a means to generate money for its often-strapped big sister, UCSD Medical Center. Asian-American students are enraged over a satire of Asian stereotypes printed in a student newspaper. Third College is renamed for Thurgood Marshall. The student body president is ousted when he is revealed as a nonstudent.

1994 - Fifth College is renamed for Eleanor Roosevelt. The feds temporarily rescind permission for UCSD to enroll patients in federally funded new-drug trials. After a swift response by the Med School, UCSD is reinstated in less than one week. Student fees rise for the fifth straight year. The typical graduate leaves owing $14,000. An original manuscript of the Dr. Seuss masterpiece, "Yertle the Turtle," turns up in the library night depository, two years after its disappearance from UCLA. 3,800 UC technical workers vote to unionize. UCSD pays more than $608,000 to 28 women and minorities unfairly passed over for jobs or promotions. The engineering school launches a corporate partners program to expand the school's donor base.

1995 - The RIMAC recreation complex/arena opens. UCSD chemists report that a meteorite found in 1962 came all the way from Mars. Students swarm the Price Center to protest proposed tuition increases. The Regents abolish affirmative action, setting off rallies and protests on all campuses. Students reject a third bid to reinstate intercollegiate football. The Central Library is renamed Geisel Library to recognize a record gift by the author's widow, Audrey. Atkinson is named the UC's 17th president. Doctorate programs in oceanography and neuroscience are rated No.1 in the country by the National Academy of Sciences. Private gifts total $89 million.

1996 - 300 demonstrators block La Jolla Village Dr. to protest the end of affirmative action. An on-campus charter high school is proposed to boost the number of disadvantaged students eligible for UC admission. Geisel Library becomes the new campus logo. For the first time in five years, student fees don’t rise. Physicist Robert Dynes is named new chancellor. Officials predict a $20 million loss for UCSD Hospital. Voters approve a ballot measure ending race-based admissions to any UC campus. UCSD partners with a German company to advance gene therapy. A study indicates that UCSD and its spin-offs generate $3 billion for the local economy.

1997 - The faculty rejects hosting a charter school on campus. Marshall College provost Cecil Lytle resigns over the issue, but suspends his resignation when a later, revised proposal is approved. The project will be part of a larger campus initiative, CREATE, designed to coordinate all parts of UCSD's K-12 outreach efforts. Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar is named the first-ever Regents' Professor. President Clinton delivers the commencement address.

1998 - Female execs from the successful Connect program spin off their own group, Athena. Minority student enrollment drops further at UCSD than at most other UC campuses. A TV show about tanned, fit college students films on campus. Swiss drug giant Novartis locates a $250 million gene research center near campus. School of Engineering is renamed to honor mega-benefactors Irwin and Joan Jacobs. Triton athletes win the Sears Cup, for schools with the best overall sports programs.

The feds give $6 million for a bridge over I-5 to be built from high-tech materials. San Diego’s Preuss family pledges $5 million to fund an on-campus charter school. The school is named in their honor. Plans emerge to open a veterinary medical center on campus, to be run by UC Davis. Although his invitation sparks student protests, Newt Gingrich gives the commencement address. 100 students walk out.

1999 - Padres owner John Moores is named a Regent. The UCSD Civic Collaborative receives a grant to study San Diego’s problems. UCSD partners with SDSU and others to found High Tech High, to focus on science and technology in a corporate setting. Plans are revived for a hotel-conference center on UCSD-owned land near campus. Judy Sweet steps down as athletic director after 24 years. After near cancellation, the third all-campus commencement is held, with Irwin Jacobs as speaker.

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