1959: A ‘general campus’
After a half-century of existence as a branch of UC Berkeley, UC Davis was declared an independent general campus of the university by an Oct. 23, 1959, vote of the UC Board of Regents.
After much deliberation, the president of the University of California, Clark Kerr, chose Emil Mrak, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Davis, to be our second chancellor.
UC Davis had been preparing itself for this change for many years, according to Ann Scheuring in Abundant Harvest. Mrak provided the leadership to captain the campus in what Scheuring says was the most rapid period of expansion in our history.
During the post-World War II years, while the UC Davis campus was still considered the College of Agriculture for UC Berkeley, we expanded existing departments and added new ones, boosting our faculty and research ambitions.
The veterinary school enrolled its first students in 1948 and the College of Letters and Science was established in 1951. Ambitious young professors in fields spread from genetics to music and psychology were invited to initiate whole new departments from scratch.
In granting our new status in 1959, the regents gave us two charges: One was that the "College of Agriculture…will continue to be the university’s major center for research and teaching in agriculture, which will remain a dominant emphasis…."
Secondly, the regents said that UC Davis should seek opportunities to be of direct service to state government, because of our closeness to the State Capitol.