UC Riverside is a proud member of the prestigious University of California system, which in 2019 marked 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.
February 14, 1907
The Riverside Citrus Experiment Station, the forbearer of the university, opens for business.
July 30, 1952
UCR holds ground-breaking ceremonies. Construction begins immediately on Webber Hall, Geology, Physical Education, Watkins Hall, and Life Sciences.
February 15, 1954
One hundred and twenty-seven students and 65 faculty members arrive fo their first day of classes. The next day, Charles Young is elected student body president. He later becomes chancellor of UCLA.
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.
"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.
April 18, 1959
UC Regents vote to make UCR a "general" campus, complete with graduate instruction and professional schools.
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.
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.
Provost, 1950 to 1958, Chancellor 1958 to June 1964
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.
Chancellor, July 1964 to 1979
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.
Chancellor, 1979 to May 1984
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.
Interim Chancellor, May 1984 to March 1985
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.
Chancellor, March 1985 to 1987
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.
Chancellor, 1987 to 1992
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.
Chancellor, 1992 to 2002
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
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.
Chancellor, July 2002 to May 2007
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
Most recently the 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
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.