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UC Davis Centennial
100 years of service, solutions, impact

Looking Back

UC Davis historical timeline



Image: 1858 Stock Farm of Jerome Davis

The Jerome B. Davis stock farm wins top prize in the California State Agricultural Society competition. A portion of the original ranch will become the site of the University Farm in 1906.



The U.S. Congress passes the Morrill Federal Land Grant Act, opening the way for land-grant universities.


Image: 1868 depot in Davisville

The University of California is chartered as a land-grant university. Construction begins on a railroad depot and other buildings in Davisville.



Henry Durant becomes the first president of the University of California.


Image: 1879 Edward Wickson

E.J. Wickson is hired to develop the first dairy course at the University of California.



The College of Agriculture begins Farmers' Institutes at the request of the State Grange.


Image: Peter Shields

Peter J. Shields, secretary of the California State Agricultural Society, becomes interested in dairy education after discussions with William H. Saylor, a colleague. Benjamin I. Wheeler becomes eighth UC president.



A proposal for a dairy school in Kings County is introduced to the Assembly by R. Holtby Myers and provokes discussion, but it fails to pass.


Peter J. Shields drafts a bill proposing a State Dairy School and Experimental Farm. The bill passes the Legislature but is vetoed by Gov. George Pardee because it is "too narrow."


The Legislature passes a comprehensive bill authorizing the regents of the University of California to acquire land and establish a University Farm School. The bill is signed into law by Gov. Pardee.


Davisville selected as location for University Farm. George Pierce, Jr., the first University of California graduate from the Sacramento Valley, rallies local boosters to contribute land and water rights.


Davisville renamed Davis in order to avoid confusion with Danville.

The Legislature appropriates $132,000 for buildings and equipment; construction begins on the first four campus structures. The University Farm is dedicated on Oct. 29.


Image: 1908 animal short course

Farmers' short courses are first offered in October.


Image: 1909 North Hall

The University Farm School opens in January with 18 students. On May 22, more than 2,200 people attend the first Picnic Day. A student dormitory, North Hall, is dedicated.



The first students complete the Farm School program. A new campus yearbook, Agricola, makes its debut.


Alumni association formed.

South Hall dormitory is built. The cost to attend the Farm School for eight months is estimated at $250 for board and room, fees and books.


Image: 1914 Quad Hay Harvesting

West Hall is completed. The first women students arrive on campus from UC Berkeley.


Image: 1915 orchestra

The University Farm Orchestra is organized. A classroom and library building is completed.


The Davis Arch

The Davis Arch is built at the corner of Second and G streets through the joint efforts of the Women's Improvement Club, Davis businessmen and Cal Aggie students.

Image: 1916_livestock

Animals from the University Farm herd sweep championships at the Chicago International Livestock Show. The yearbook is renamed Farm Rodeo.


David P. Barrows, a political scientist, is elected president of the University of California in December, succeeding Benjamin Ide Wheeler.



A four-year degree program is established. Claude B. Hutchison becomes director of the Davis campus, which is renamed the Northern Branch of the College of Agriculture.


William W. Campbell, an astronomer and director of the Lick Observatory, takes office as president of the university, succeeding David P. Barrows.


Walter L. Howard becomes director of the Davis campus.


An agricultural engineering program is established as a major in Berkeley's College of Engineering, with courses offered at the Davis campus. An agricultural engineering building (Walker Hall) is completed.


1928 Celeste Wright

Celeste Turner Wright, the first Davis humanities instructor with a Ph.D., joins the English faculty. The animal science building, Hart Hall, is completed.


The California Aggie Band is organized.



Image: 1930 Sproul

Robert G. Sproul, the first native Californian to be named president of the university, succeeds William W. Campbell.


Image: 1932 wine making resumes

Prohibition ends, allowing the gradual resumption of research and instruction in wine making at Davis.

Image: 1932 boxing

The Aggie boxing team wins the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Competition.


The Cal Aggie Women's Association is organized by 17 female students. More than 500 students are enrolled in the fall semester.


A department of home economics is established, offering a two-year non-degree program.


Knowles A. Ryerson becomes resident head of the campus, renamed the College of Agriculture at Davis. One hundred and six courses are taught by 76 faculty.



A new library and administration building, Shields Library, is completed on the site of the old classroom building. The Division of Chemistry acquires the first patents for the entire University of California.


Image: 1943 signal corps band

The Davis campus is taken over by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which operates it as a training center. All instruction ceases until 1945.


The School of Veterinary Medicine is established. William Randolph Hearst's backing is credited to a veterinarian who treated Hearst's pet. Three hundred students receive degrees at the first commencement held on campus.

The Davis campus acquires the only university-owned airport in the state, then and now.


Davis has the highest growth rate of any campus in the university. The regents adopt a loyalty oath for UC employees, setting off one of the most disruptive periods in the history of the university. Graduate degrees are awarded at a campus commencement.



The College of Letters and Science enrolls its first students.


Stanley B. Freeborn is named the first provost of the Davis campus. The College of Agriculture at Davis separates from Berkeley.


Image: 1955 MU

The Memorial Union is dedicated, commemorating students lost in military service. The $1 million cost is paid by alumni, faculty, parents and friends.


The regents approve a master plan for UC Davis with projected growth to 5,000 students. Fall enrollment reaches a high of 2,166 students, of whom 605 are female.


Clark Kerr, chancellor of the Berkeley campus, is named university president, succeeding Robert G. Sproul. Provost Stanley B. Freeborn becomes the first UC Davis chancellor. The departments of Art and Music are established.


Cal Aggie Alumni Foundation (later the UC Davis Foundation) formed as a non-profit entity to raise private funds.

Image: 1959 Emil Mrak

The regents designate UC Davis and UC Riverside general campuses. Emil M. Mrak, is inaugurated as the second chancellor of UC Davis.



Enrollment in the College of Letters and Science equals that of the College of Agriculture for the first time.


The UC Davis Graduate Division is established. The Department of Dramatic Art and Speech is formed.


A college of engineering is established at the Davis campus. The Institute of Governmental Affairs is organized.


Regents formally establish law school.

Image: 1963 Wyatt Pavilion moves

The stock-judging pavilion is moved, converted into an Elizabethan theater and renamed the Wyatt Pavilion Theatre.


Image: 1965 Crocker overhead

The regents vote to establish a medical school at Davis. The Crocker Nuclear Laboratory is completed. Students are admitted to the first law class.


The semester system is replaced by a quarter system.

Image: 1967 MU busses

Double-decker buses are purchased by the Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD).

Image: 1967 Wellman

UC President Clark Kerr is fired. Harry R.Wellman, a vice president for agricultural sciences, succeeds him as acting head of the UC system.


Image: 1968 law school construction

School of Law moves into $1.9 million building.

Charles J. Hitch, an economist, is named UC president, succeeding acting President Harry R. Wellman.



Image: 1969 Sochor

Ethnic studies programs are organized. James L. Sochor is named head football coach.

Image: 1970 Meyer inauguration

James H. Meyer, former dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is inaugurated as third chancellor of UC Davis, succeeding Emil Mrak. Students protest the Vietnam War and the shooting of students at Kent State University.

Image: 1970 war protest

University and college campuses in California are closed for four days to avert violence during student demonstrations. The Whole Earth Festival is created to celebrate the first Earth Day.


Allan Bakke files suit against the regents charging that reverse discrimination barred him from UC Davis' School of Medicine. The case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rules that Bakke must be admitted.


David S. Saxon is named university president, succeeding Charles J. Hitch. The veterinary school is ranked first in the nation by a national survey of deans.


A 10-year purchase agreement with the UC Davis Medical Center is signed with Sacramento County. The first permanent medical sciences building on campus, Medical Sciences I, is completed.

Image: 1977 rec hall completion

Recreation Hall is completed with private funding raised from alumni, faculty, parents and friends.

Image: 1977 Meyer with Prince Charles

Prince Charles visits the campus.


First endowed academic positions formed: the Maynard A. Amerine Professorship of Enology and the Sesnon Chair of Animal Science.


The Davis Chancellor's Club is organized. A committee is formed to recruit faculty and develop a curriculum for a School of Administration.



David P. Gardner is named university president, succeeding David S. Saxon.

The Bodega Marine Laboratory is added to UC Davis' roster of research and teaching facilities.


Chancellor James Meyer presides over the groundbreaking ceremony for the Food and Agricultural Sciences Building, later to bear his name.


UC Davis physicists develop an air-pollution monitoring device using a particle accelerator.


Image: 1987 Hullar

Theodore L. Hullar, chancellor of UC Riverside, is named the fourth chancellor, succeeding James H. Meyer.

Image: 1987 Roy Willis prize

The first UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement is awarded to history Professor F. Roy Willis.


UC Davis is named a national center for AIDS research. The campus leads the nation in the number of Ph.D.s awarded in the biological sciences.



Planning goes forward for a teaching and research center in Washington D.C.

Image: 1990 principles of community

The UC Davis Principles of Community are conceived.

The football team wins its 20th consecutive league championship, a national record.


Jack W. Peltason is named university president, succeeding David P. Gardner.

Image: 1992 alumni center

The Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center is dedicated. Ground is broken for the Social Sciences and Humanities Building.


Image: 1993 cross cultural center

The Cross Cultural Center opens.

Image: 1993 Schneeman

Barbara Schneeman becomes the first woman dean of agriculture in the nation when she accepts the post at UC Davis.


Image: 1994 Vanderhoef

Larry N. Vanderhoef, provost and executive vice chancellor, is inaugurated as fifth chancellor, succeeding Theodore L. Hullar.

Students First campaign is launched.

Image: 1994 Social Sciences completed

Social Sciences and Humanities Building is completed.


Richard C. Atkinson, chancellor of UC San Diego, is named university president, succeeding Jack W. Peltason. The regents vote to end the use of race, ethnicity and gender in admissions, hiring and contracting.


Image: 1996 Taylor Alan pulitzer

UC Davis history professor Alan Taylor wins the Pulitzer Prize in history for his book William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic.


Image: 1997 Clinton and Gore

President Clinton announces that $50 million in federal funds will be allocated to help solve problems in the Tahoe basin after viewing how the lake is studied by UC Davis researchers.

Image: 1997 Gary Snyder

Engineering students win the top prize in the nation for Futurecar. Professor Gary Snyder wins the Bollinger Prize in Poetry.


Image: 1998 championship

UC Davis men's basketball team wins NCAA Division II national championship.

John Muir Institute of the Environment formed.


Valley Foundation bestows $10.7 million, campus’s largest gift, to help remedy veterinary school deficiencies.

1999 Aggie mascot

New Aggies mustang logos launched to represent UC Davis athletics.

UC Davis Connect program created to link start-up businesses to regional supporters.

First tenured woman faculty member, Celeste Turner Wright, dies.



UC Davis recognized as a top campus in producing minority Ph.D.s in math, physical science and engineering.

Nation's only horse physical therapy program launched.

UC Davis triples its capital investment to build campus.

2000 animal shelter

$2.2 million grant launches nation’s first animal-shelter medicine research program.


Division of Education becomes School of Education.

2001 Hinshaw Virginia

Virginia Hinshaw named provost.

2001 Mondavi gift

Robert and Margrit Mondavi give $35 million, campus’s largest gift to date, to benefit Institute for Wine and Food Science and Center for the Performing Arts.


UC Davis leads the nation for agriculture and environment publications, citations.

2002 cats hiv lyons

First vaccine for cat AIDS approved for veterinary use.

Agricultural research funding leads nation.

UC Davis Cancer Center achieves National Cancer Institute designation.

2002 Mondavi Jackson Hall

Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts opens.

2002 its fuel cell

Toyota delivers first fuel-cell car in U.S. to UC Davis for consumer research.

Plant and Environmental Sciences building opens.

Private support for UC Davis tops $100 million for first time.


2003 dorm

Three freshman residence halls open to house nearly 400 students.

2003 lrdp

UC regents approve UC Davis growth plan, neighborhood, research park and conference center.

2003 Schaal pool

Rand and Ted Schaal Aquatic Center opens.


Center for Mind and Brain opens.

2004 ARC

Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) opens.

2004 energy

California governor launches Hydrogen Highway at an event at UC Davis.

2004 Michael Siminovitch

California Lighting Technology Center created.

Executive M.B.A. program launched in the Bay Area.

2005 genome

Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility opens and promotes cross-cutting research.


2005 Bodega launch

Scientists launch an innovative new boat to access Northern California ocean.

2005 peigh horse Kid

Theodora Peigh estate leaves $13 million to support veterinary students.

Division of Biological Sciences becomes College of Biological Sciences.

Research funding passes a half billion dollars.

2005 TomHarv43

UC tomato harvester designated as historic landmark.


2006 chocolate

Researchers identify heart-healthy compound in chocolate.

Mathematical Sciences building dedicated.

UC Davis' regional economic impact tops $3 billion annually.

UC Davis welcomes 5,500 freshmen, the largest freshman class in UC history.

2006 Tahoe research center

Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences opens.


Warren and Leta Giedt Hall dedicated.

2007 avian flu

UC Davis wins national center for avian flu research.

Technocultural Studies building opens.

School of Public Health proposal approved by UC Davis faculty.

2007 Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

$100 million grant launches Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.