University of California, Riverside

History of UCR

UC Riverside is a proud member of the prestigious University of California system, which this year marks its 150th anniversary. Our history of high-impact innovation began with the university's earliest days as a Citrus Experiment Station and continues through today's transformative research. As we celebrate our past, we prepare next-generation scientists, engineers, performers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers to tackle tomorrow's challenges.

Since our founding, UCR’s evolution has mirrored the dynamic growth of Southern California. Once a small university in a small town, we are now the premier research and educational institution in the thriving Inland Southern California region. 

Explore our unique history through the milestone links below. 

TIMELINE
February 14, 1907

The Riverside Citrus Experiment Station, the forbearer of the university, opens for business.

The Riverside Citrus Experiment Station, the forbearer of the university, opens for business.

TIMELINE
July 30, 1952

UCR holds ground-breaking ceremonies. Construction begins immediately on Webber Hall, Geology, Physical Education, Watkins Hall and Life Sciences.

UCR holds ground-breaking ceremonies. Construction begins immediately on Webber Hall, Geology, Physical Education, Watkins Hall and Life Sciences.

TIMELINE
February 15, 1954

One hundred and twenty-seven students and 65 faculty members arrive for their first day of classes. The next day, Charles Young is elected student body president. He later becomes chancellor of UCLA.

One hundred and twenty-seven students and 65 faculty members arrive for their first day of classes. The next day, Charles Young is elected student body president. He later becomes chancellor of UCLA.

TIMELINE
June 20,1954

The first 20 students graduate from UCR.

The first 20 students graduate from UCR.

TIMELINE
October 19, 1954

UCR is officially dedicated. 

UCR is officially dedicated. 

TIMELINE
August, 1955

The big "C" on Box Springs Mountain is made with cement and equipment donated by the E.L. Yeager Construction Co. Surveying work is done by students. At 132 feet long, it is the largest concrete block letter on record.

The big "C" on Box Springs Mountain is made with cement and equipment donated by the E.L. Yeager Construction Co. Surveying work is done by students. At 132 feet long, it is the largest concrete block letter on record.

TIMELINE
1955

“Highlanders” is adopted as the campus mascot following a vote of the student body. The Scottish theme is embraced by several campus groups and buildings.

“Highlanders” is adopted as the campus mascot following a vote of the student body. The Scottish theme is embraced by several campus groups and buildings.

TIMELINE
April 18, 1959

UC Regents vote to make UCR a "general" campus, complete with graduate instruction and professional schools.

UC Regents vote to make UCR a "general" campus, complete with graduate instruction and professional schools.

TIMELINE
October 2, 1966

The Boyd Bell Tower is dedicated.

The Boyd Bell Tower is dedicated.

TIMELINE
May 16, 1984

Chancellor Tomás Rivera suffers a heart attack and passes away. On Feb. 19, 1985, the library is officially named for him.

Chancellor Tomás Rivera suffers a heart attack and passes away. On Feb. 19, 1985, the library is officially named for him.

TIMELINE
April, 1998

Students approve a plan for UCR’s athletics teams to join NCAA Division I. In March 2000, UCR is accepted into the Big West Conference.

Students approve a plan for UCR’s athletics teams to join NCAA Division I. In March 2000, UCR is accepted into the Big West Conference.

TIMELINE
April 15, 2005

The UCR Palm Desert Center opens.
 

The UCR Palm Desert Center opens.
 

TIMELINE
November, 2006

The university’s plans for a medical school are accepted.
 

The university’s plans for a medical school are accepted.
 

TIMELINE
September, 2012

UCR’s School of Public Policy is announced. The first class of students started in 2015 and graduated in June of 2017. Pictured: Anil B. Deolalikar, founding Dean.

UCR’s School of Public Policy is announced. The first class of students started in 2015 and graduated in June of 2017. Pictured: Anil B. Deolalikar, founding Dean.

TIMELINE
August, 2013

The first inaugural class of 50 students is welcomed into UC Riverside’s School of Medicine. This class graduated in June 2017 with a historical 100% match rate. 

The first inaugural class of 50 students is welcomed into UC Riverside’s School of Medicine. This class graduated in June 2017 with a historical 100% match rate. 

Past Chancellors

Chancellor Watkins
Gordon Samuel Watkins was named UC Riverside's first provost in 1949 - a position he held until his retirement in 1956.
He was recalled to serve on the UC Santa Barbara campus as dean of the School of Education after that and died in 1970.
Gordon Watkins
Provost, 1949-1956
Herman Spieth
Herman Theodore Spieth was chief campus officer at the Riverside campus during a period of transition when the small liberal arts college was moving toward full university status.
He was named provost in 1956 and held this title until the Regents designated Riverside a general campus in 1958 and his title was changed to chancellor. He served as Chancellor until 1964 when he transferred to UC Davis as a professor of zoology. He died in 1988.
Herman Spieth
Provost, 1956 to 1958, Chancellor 1958 to June 1964
Ivan Hinderaker
Ivan Hinderaker was UCR's longest-serving chancellor. He guided UCR through the period of social unrest common to most college campuses in the 1960s. He died on September 23, 2007.
Ivan Hinderaker
Chancellor, July 1964 to 1979
Tomas Rivera
A Mexican-American who received his early education in Spanish-language barrio schools, Tomás Rivera went on to earn advanced degrees and to become the first minority chancellor in the University of California system in 1979. During Rivera’s tenure, a master’s degree program in business administration was added to the flourishing Graduate School of Management. Rivera died in office in 1984.
Tomás Rivera
Chancellor, 1979 to May 1984
Daniel Aldrich
Daniel Gaskill Aldrich, Jr. became the founding chancellor of the UC Irvine campus in 1962. His academic career with the University of California began in 1944 as a soil chemist at the Citrus Experiment Station at Riverside. Aldrich later progressed to the rank of chemist in the Agricultural Experiment Station. He was appointed interim chancellor at UC Riverside following Chancellor Rivera's death in 1984. He died in 1990.
Daniel Aldrich
Interim Chancellor, May 1984 to March 1985
Ted Hullar
Hullar came to Riverside in 1984 as Chancellor Rivera’s executive vice chancellor. He was appointed chancellor in March 1985. While chancellor, Hullar helped finalize the site for the now flourishing California Museum of Photography, laid the foundation for the engineering program, and welcomed in the first students to earn degrees in business administration from UCR.
Ted Hullar
Chancellor, March 1985 to 1987
Rosemary Schraer
In 1985, Schraer accepted the position of executive vice chancellor at UCR under Chancellor Hullar. She was named the first female chancellor in the UC system when Chancellor Hullar was reassigned to UC Davis in 1987. Her goal of growing UCR to be the UC system's next great research campus inspired an external giving program, which increased external giving from $3 million to over $12 million annually. Schraer died in office in 1992.
Rosemary Schraer
Chancellor, 1987 to 1992
Raymond Orbach
Orbach was the second-longest tenured chancellor at UCR. Under Orbach’s leadership, UCR grew from 8,800 students to over 14,000. Orbach championed a campus-wide building boom, including adding over one-million-square-feet of office, research, and teaching facilities with a value of $250 million. He resigned in 2002 to become the director of the Office of Science in the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.
Raymond Orbach
Chancellor, 1992 to 2002
David H. Warren
Dr. David H. Warren was named interim chancellor in March 2002. He joined the UCR faculty in 1969 and was appointed executive vice chancellor in 1994. He has written four books and 60 articles on spatial cognition and the impact of visual impairment on child development. He is currently a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at UCR.
David H. Warren
Interim Chancellor, March 2002 to July 2002
France Córdova
Córdova is an astrophysicist, the 14th director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and president emerita of Purdue University. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve as chancellor at a University of California campus. While serving as chancellor, Córdova's accomplishments included the preliminary approval for a medical school at UCR, the opening of UCR's Palm Desert Graduate Center, and the addition of over 1.8 million square feet of new or renovated space on campus. She received a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1979. In 1993, she was named the chief scientist at NASA.
France Córdova
Chancellor, July 2002 to May 2007
Robert D. Grey
As Interim Chancellor, Grey led the development of the final proposal for the UCR medical school, which includes the business plan and curriculum. It was approved by the Academic Senate in March 2008. Under Grey's leadership, UCR also developed a new enrollment plan, launched a scholarship campaign, and gained Senate approval for a new School of Public Policy.
Robert D. Grey
Interim Chancellor, May 2007 to June 2008
Timothy P. White
Now Chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, the largest four-year public higher education system in the country, his accomplishments at UCR include the development of a 10-year strategic plan called UCR 2020, accreditation of the new School of Medicine, the announcement of the new School of Public Policy, and growth of campus enrollment to almost 21,000 students. Under White, Riverside also was selected to host the new UCPath project, which is consolidating basic human resources operations across the entire UC system as a permanent cost-saving measure.
Timothy P. White
Chancellor, July 2008 to December 2012
Jane Close Conoley
Her accomplishments at UCR include the launch of the new School of Medicine, which received 2,400 applications for the 50 spots available for the first class. Under Conoley, Riverside was named a “Next Generation University” by the New America Foundation for success in enhancing student outcomes and maintaining robust research profiles despite economic pressures and ranked 10th in the world in its impact on the natural sciences and engineering by the University of Leiden.
Jane Close Conoley
Interim Chancellor, December 2012 to August 2013
UCR Oral History Project

Hear the history of UCR from the mouths of faculty, administrators, students, and civic leaders.

University Archives

The designated repository for records, documents, publications and other material pertaining to the University of California, Riverside.

UCR Citrus Gifts

The UCR Citrus Collection is a carefully curated assortment of gourmet products featuring the distinctive — and often unique — flavors of the University of California, Riverside (UCR) campus.

UCR Department of History

Interested in studying History? Learn more about our History Department.