In 1960, the State of California adopted a Master Plan for Higher Education which was a three tiered plan intended to channel students according to their ability to either the University of California, the California State University or the California community colleges and a plan which limited the doctoral and research missions to the University of California The Master Plan was adopted during the great post World War II growth period in California attendant to an overall optimistic future for the Golden State. In the immediate years following the adoption of the Plan, the University of California leadership expanded the number of UC campuses from six to nine and plunged ahead in anticipation of robust enrollment demand despite concerns and misgivings of many within the established University that such growth would diminish the resource base (and hence the quality) for the established campuses (including Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and in addition since the nineteen fifties, Santa Barbara, and Riverside). The campuses born in the 1960s, San Diego, Irvine and Santa Cruz, were intended to adhere to both the teaching and research missions of the University of California and this expectation would clearly demand significant resources. During the tenure of the great President Clark Kerr (1958-1967) additional future campuses were anticipated and discussed, but not actually planned. In the 1980s, a new President, David P. Gardner (1983-1191), also with growth on his mind, introduced a plan to both achieve budget wins in the State Capital, Sacramento, and to expand the number of campuses to continue to meet the Master Plan promise for the top tier of California students bound for college. But by the beginning of the 1990s, California was suffering extensive pangs due to growth, a massive ―Tax Revolt,‖ with dire implications for state funded services, rapidly changing demographics and concomitant significant pressure on state and local services, and an emergent environmental movement which challenged unfettered development. Thus when the plan was introduced to build at least one more University of California campus, great skepticism and enormous challenges confronted the various leaders who gradually, very gradually steered the course towards a tenth University of California campus. This paper is a summary of the political history both within the State of California and within the University of California, which led to the eventual successful development of the University of California, Merced, the tenth campus of the UC system. While this effort was eventually successful, very much against the odds, the final word is that with the Great Recession of 2008-09, it unlikely that this feat could be repeated.

Lindsay Ann Desrochers
Publication date: 
October 1, 2011
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
THE BIRTH OF A RESEARCH UNIVERSITY: UC Merced, No Small Miracle by Lindsay Ann Desrochers. CSHE.14.11 (October 2011)