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UC Berkeley Celebrates 150 Years


A Timeline of the First 150 Years

The University of California, Berkeley is celebrating 150 years of knowledge, innovation, and light. We have been on the cutting edge of academic research since our founding in 1868, and this is only the beginning. The great diversity of interests and accomplishments of its students and graduates have elevated UC Berkeley to be a leader of academic achievement, recognized as the #1 public school in the world. The Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley is one of the top undergraduate and graduate schools in the nation, boasting the most impressive array of students and faculty. Enjoy a brief timeline of the storied histories of UC Berkeley and the Haas School of Business.


  • The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 makes land and resources available for the purposes of providing public education.


  • Berkeley is founded.


  • Women are admitted to UC.
  • Henry Durant is named the first UC president.


  • Construction is completed on the first UC buildings: North and South Hall. The South Hall remains today!
  • Blue and Gold are chosen as school colors.


  • The first seeds of the UC botanical garden are planted.


  • The first university football team is founded.


  • Berkeley graduate and business professional, Arthur Rodgers, sets forth the idea for a business school during his commencement address.


  • The first “Big Game” is played against Stanford.


  • Phoebe Apperson Hearst becomes the first woman regent.


  • The College of Commerce, known today as the Haas School of Business, is founded. Three students are enrolled.
  • A generous gift from Cora Jane Flood aids the founding of the new school.
  • Carl Copping Plehn is appointed as the school’s first dean.


  • Beginning of the university’s “Golden Years”, or the 20-year presidency of Benjamin Ide Wheeler.


  • The Department of Linguistics, the first linguistics department in the Western Hemisphere, is established at UC Berkeley.
  • The Department of Anthropology is established.


  • Simon Litman teaches the first marketing course at the College of Commerce from 1902 to 1908.


  • Adolph Miller becomes the Professor of Political Economy and Commerce until 1915. He later serves on the first Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.


  • Rube Goldberg graduates from UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering.


  • The 1906 Earthquake affects San Francisco and Berkeley, damaging many buildings and forcing the university to end the academic year early.


  • The Hearst Memorial Mining Building opens.


  • Sather Gate is constructed.
  • Henry Mowbray writes the first textbook for the College of Commerce on insurance.


  • Sather Tower, or the Campanile, is completed. It is the third tallest bell-and-clock-tower in the world at 307 feet.


  • Henry Rand Hatfield, who helped found the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the the national honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, becomes the second dean of the College of Commerce.


  • Vitamin E is discovered by UC Berkeley anatomy Professors Herbert M. Evans and Dr. Katharine S. Bishop.


  • Catherine DeMotte Greene earns her Master’s degree with a specialization in Accounting. In 1937, she earns a Ph.D. in German accounting theory and becomes the first female tenure-track faculty member at the College of Commerce.


  • Funded by John D. Rockefeller, the International House opens as the first coeducational residence welcoming men, women, international students, and students of color in the West.


  • Ernest O. Lawrence designs the Cyclotron, a machine that accelerates nuclear particles, launching the use of particle physics to discover the fundamental structure of matter. He becomes UC Berkeley’s first Nobel Laureate. UC faculty go on to claim 61 more Nobel Prizes in virtually every academic discipline.


  • Oski is named.
  • E.T. Grether becomes the College of Commerce’s sixth dean from 1941 to 1961. He brings the school into modernity to meet post-WWII industrial and managerial needs.
  • Grether establishes the Institute of Business and Economics Research.


  • The College of Commerce is transformed into the Department of Business Administration. The following year, the department is renamed the School of Business Administration.


  • The School of Business Administration creates a one year graduate program, offering courses in accounting, finance, personnel administration, insurance, actuarial science, statistics and business research, transportation, public utilities, marketing, retailing and advertising, and foreign trade.


  • The school drops to a war-time low enrollment of 83 students.


  • Grether establishes the Institute of Industrial Relations.


  • UC Berkeley biochemist, Wendell Stanley, wins the Nobel Prize for developing the flu vaccine.  


  • The school increases to a war-time high enrollment of 905 students.


  • Grether establishes the Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics.


  • The Graduate School of Business Administration opens.


  • The Ph.D. program in business administration and executive education programs are inaugurated.


  • The synthesis of element 102, Nobelium (No), is claimed at UC Berkeley.


  • UC President Clark Kerr leads the revolutionary overhaul of California’s public higher education system to help students attend college.


  • President John F. Kennedy addresses UC Berkeley in Memorial Stadium in front of 88,000 people, the largest public event in UC history.


  • Malcolm X speaks at UC Berkeley.


  • UC Berkeley students hold marches and sit-ins to overturn university policies that ban political activism on campus, later known as the Free Speech Movement. It is known as a watershed moment in the history of civil liberties.


  • Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at UC Berkeley.


  • Dean Holton launches the Professional Accounting Program.


  • Berkeley students and the Third World Liberation Front demand African American, Asian American, Chicano, and Native American academic programs, leading to a nine-week strike. This leads to the creation of an Ethnic Studies Department.


  • The Physically Disabled Students Program is founded.
  • Dean Holton founds the Berkeley Program in Finance with support from the Dean Witter Foundation.
  • Dean Holton begins a course in Entrepreneurship and Business Development.


  • The school initiates an evening MBA program.


  • Author James Baldwin gives a series of lectures on campus.


  • Dean Earl F. Cheit meets with Walter Haas Sr. and his sons Peter and Walter Jr. to discuss moving the school from Barrows to a brand new building.
  • Walter Haas Sr. offers a gift to Dean Cheit to increase the number of endowed professorships. The gift helps establish the E.T. Grether Chair in Marketing and Public Policy in 1981, the school’s first endowed chair to be named for a faculty member. 


  • The Learning Partnership program is established, strengthening the school’s relationship with the larger business community.


  • French philosopher, Michel Foucault, becomes a visiting professor at UC Berkeley.
  • Poet Czeslaw Milosz wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Berkeley professors offer evidence for the asteroid impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • The Haas Competition in Business and Social Policy is launched, designed to promote awareness of business ethics for MBA students.


  • One of the most spectacular plays in college football history, The Play, wins the Big Game for the Golden Bears against Stanford.


  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak graduates from UC Berkeley.
  • Following protests from UC Berkeley and other UCs, UC Regents divest from South Africa.
  • The College of Commerce is renamed the Haas School of Business.


  • Berkeley Lab is chosen to be one of the labs tasked with the Human Genome project.


  • The Haas family gifts the cornerstone contribution to the building of a new site for the school, the largest in the history of the Berkeley campus. The university honors the gift by naming the new complex in honor of the late Walter Haas Sr. 


  • UC Berkeley geneticist Mary-Claire King identifies the gene responsible for hereditary breast cancer.


  • Construction of the Haas School of Business begins.
  • President Clinton invites D’Andrea Tyson, Class of 1939 Professor, to chair the Council of Economic Advisors. She was appointed to the National Economic Council in 1995, the first woman to serve as a top economic advisor to the president.


  • Berkeley Lab is part of a team of physicists that announces evidence for the subatomic particle ‘top quark.’
  • President Clinton appoints Janet Yellen, Bernard T. Rocca Professor of International Trade, to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She is later appointed to chair the Council of Economic Advisors, filling the position vacated by D’Andrea Tyson.
  • Haas Professor John Harsanyi wins the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in game theory, a mathematical model of human behavior in competitive situations.


  • UC Berkeley English Professor Robert Hass is named U.S. Poet Laureate. Hass later wins the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for his poetry.
  • Michael Katz, Edward J. and Mollie Arnold Professor of Business Administration, is named Chief Economist at the Federal Communications Commission.
  • The school moves into the new Haas building.
  • The Clausen Center for International Business and Policy is established by a gift from A. W. “Tom” Clausen.


  • UC Berkeley alum and Nobel Prize in Physics winner, Steven Chu, joins the UC Berkeley faculty.
  • The Center in Telecommunications and Digital Convergence is announced.
  • The Center for Financial Engineering and Risk Management is inaugurated.
  • The Center for Organization and Human Resources Effectiveness is founded.


  • Berkeley professor Daniel McFadden wins Nobel Prize in Economics for his development of theory and methods for analyzing discrete choice.


  • UC Berkeley publishes five volumes of letters by Mark Twain written between 1876-1880. Many of the roughly 700 letters had never been in print before.


  • BP selects UC Berkeley, in partnership with Berkeley Lab and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to lead the Energy Biosciences Institute, a $500 million effort to develop biofuels to meet the world's energy needs.


  • UC Berkeley cosmologist Saul Perlmutter wins the Nobel Prize in Physics for determining that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.


  • Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and partner Emmanuelle Charpentier reveal revolutionary gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9. It is one of the most significant breakthroughs in biological science.
  • UC Berkeley announces a $1 million scholarship for undocumented students, funded by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. The program is the first of its kind in the nation.
  • UC Berkeley alum Natalie Coughlin wins her 12th Olympic medal in swimming, tied for the most medals ever won by a U.S. woman. Overall, nearly 100 UC-affiliated student and alumni athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and staff participate in the 2012 Games, with UC athletes winning 27 medals.


  • Janet Yellen, Professor Emerita at UC Berkeley is named the first woman Chair of the Federal Reserve System. Prior to becoming the highest banker in the land, Yellen was an active faculty member at Berkeley and President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.


  • Members of the Cal Band perform alongside Coldplay at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.
  • Researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz use advances in genetic sequencing to create a detailed tree of life, mapping the relationship of all known life forms.


  • UC Berkeley physics Professor, Norman Yao, describes a new form of matter: time crystals.


  1. The First 100 Years of Haas. 1998. About Haas.
  2. University of California, Timeline. 2018. UC 150th Anniversary.