"How the University of California Got Its Autonomy”

Seminar | April 3 | 12-1:30 p.m. |  University of California Office of The President

 1111 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94607

 John Aubrey Douglass, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Studies in Higher Education

 Center for Studies in Higher Education , University of California Office of the President

This presentation will provide a brief historical analysis of how the University of California became a “public trust” in 1879 as part of a larger revision of California’s Constitution approved by California voters. The University henceforth gained the exclusive power to operate, control, and administer the University of California, becoming virtually a fourth branch of state government, a "constitutional corporation . . . equal and coordinate with the legislature, the judiciary and the executive." It was a watershed moment in the history of California’s land-grant public university, fundamentally shaping the state’s subsequent development of the nations, and the world’s, first coherent approach to building a mass higher education system. Status as a public trust set UC on a spectacular course, helping it to create an internal academic culture and drive to meet the socioeconomic needs of the state relatively free of the often contentious political interventions found in many other states. UC emerged as one of the most productive and prestigious university systems in the world. Yet over the past six or so decades, the unusual status of the university’s governing board has been on occasions a source of frustration for lawmakers who have wanted to be more directly involved in controlling and formulating university policy, from admissions practices and tuition, to how funds are raised and spent, what academic programs UC should or should not provide, and proposals to revise the membership and authority of the Regents.

About the speaker: John Aubrey Douglass
John Aubrey Douglass is Senior Research Fellow - Public Policy and Higher Education at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California - Berkeley. He is the author of the books Envisioning the Asian New Flagship University: Its Past and Vital Future (with John Hawkins, Berkeley Public Policy Press and the East-West Center 2017) The New Flagship University: Changing the Paradigm from Global Ranking to National Relevancy (Palgrave Macmillan 2016), The Conditions for Admissions(link is external) (Stanford Press 2007), The California Idea and American Higher Education(link is external) (Stanford University Press, 2000; published in Chinese in 2008), and with Jud King and Irwin Feller (ed) Globalization’s Muse: Universities and Higher Education Systems in a Changing World(link is external) (Public Policy Press, 2009). He is the founding Berkeley PI of the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium – a group of major research universities in the US and internationally that conduct student surveys, with members in China, Brazil, South Africa, the Netherlands and Russia. All the UC Campuses are members and administer ugSERU (known as UCUES in the UC system). He is also the editor of the Center's Research and Occasional Paper Series (ROPS), sits on the editorial board of international higher education journals in the UK, China, and Russia, and serves on the international advisory boards of a number of higher education institutes. He is also the PI for the UC Cliometric History Project which is taking a Big Data approach to analyzing the history of the University of California in its socioeconomic impact on California.

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 Brown bag lunch

 Loren Dela Cruz, Events Specialist, loren.delacruz@berkeley.edu, 510-643-9212