Universities of the World: Berkeley

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The University of California, Berkeley, is located in Berkeley, California (on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay) and is the flagship school of the University of California system.

UC Berkeley was founded in 1868 when the private College of California and the public Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College merged together to create the first full-curriculum public university in the state.

Berkeley is often regarded as the top public university in the United States, the only schools ranked higher than Berkeley receive no public funding. This combination of prestige and affordability has caused Berkeley’s student body to become extremely diverse, yet dominated by Asian-Americans.

Nearly 40% of its undergraduate students are of an Asian ethnic background, compared to about only 5% of U.S. Citizens having the same ethnicity.

Berkeley’s reputation as a school with an extremely active and progressive political bent began in the 1960’s, when student activists staged large protests in support of the Free Speech movement of 1964 and in opposition to the Vietnam War. A hilarious depiction of Berkeley’s campus in the 60’s can be seen in this clip from the The Graduate (1967), starring Dustin Hoffman.

Berkeley is also responsible for co-managing three United States Department of Energy National Laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

These three centralized national labs grew from the massive scientific efforts undertaken by the U.S. during World War II. New technological advances by the labs, such as radar, the computer, and the atomic bomb proved indispensable in securing an Allied victory.

Notable Alumni:

  • Eric Schmidt, MS 1979, PhD 1982 – Executive Chairman of Google Inc.
  • Steve Wozniak, BS 1986 – co-founder of Apple Computer
  • Gregory Peck, BA 1939 – Academy Award-winning actor
  • Robert McNamara, BA 1937 – President of World Bank (1968–1981), United States Secretary of Defense (1961–1968), President of Ford Motor Company (1960)
  • Rube Goldberg, B.S. 1904 – cartoonist, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1948, namesake of the “Rube Goldberg Machine”
  • Robert Penn Warren, M.A. 1927 – novelist and poet, who received the Pulitzer Prize three times; author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men (1946)
  • Philip K. Dick (attended) – science fiction author whose stories were made into the movies Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, Screamers and A Scanner Darkly
  • Jack London (attended 1896–1897) – novelist best known for The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf.
  • Terry Riley, M.A. 1961 – minimalist composer

Related Posts:

Universities of the World: Northwestern
Universities of the World: Cambridge
Universities of the World: Stanford
Universities of the World: Harvard
Universities of the World: Princeton
Universities of the World: Yale

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