What lives inside the Campanile? Who was Phoebe Apperson Hearst? How many Olympic medals have Cal Bears amassed over time? What is Cas9? Explore historic milestones, traditions, major discoveries, influential people who helped shaped our university, and more below. Come back as we add more stories throughout the year.
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After years of hard work and personal growth, graduating from college can bring a mix of emotions, from pride and nostalgia to fear and excitement about what lies ahead. It also brings a special day when, at Berkeley, some 5,000 graduates and over 40,000 guests gather for a formal procession, speeches, performances, and more to mark this momentous occasion.
Barry C. Barish ’57, Ph.D. ’63 says watching ocean waves marked the start of his work on detecting gravitational waves a century after Einstein’s prediction. His research would win him the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shares, as well as Berkeley’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year.
A poem written and performed by José L. Rodríguez Nodal, a long-time staff member with deep family ties to UC Berkeley, for the university’s 150th birthday on March 23, 2018
In 1874, Berkeley’s fledgling library was housed first in South Hall, then moved to Bacon Hall in 1881. Yet as the collection continued to grow, so did the need for a bigger home.
On our rugged eastern foothills,
Stands our symbol clear and bold,
Big C means to fight and strive
And win for blue and gold.
— Excerpt from the song “Big C,” written in 1913 by Harold P. Williams and N. Loyall McLaren
While elite Eastern universities such as Yale and Columbia waited to admit women until the late 20th century, the University of California began admitting women two years after its founding.
By today’s standards, Lillian Gilbreth 1900, M.A. 1902 was a superwoman. She studied literature at Berkeley in anticipation of becoming a teacher — and was the first woman to speak at a commencement ceremony — but her path took a dramatic turn. In 1915, she earned a Ph.D.
The University of California began on March 23, 1868, when Gov. Henry Haight signed an act catalyzing the audacious idea that California should have a great public university — one that would serve equally the children of immigrants and settlers, landowners and industrial barons.