By Kara Guzman, Santa Cruz Sentinel
UC Santa Cruz’s emergence as a powerhouse for research and innovation can be traced to its counterculture roots — a journey that the university will commemorate with a year of events as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Opened in 1965, what began as a small collection of trailers and partly constructed colleges on the former Cowell Ranch has today become as a leader in genomics research, data science, coastal sustainability and undergraduate teaching. UCSC now boasts an increasingly diverse student body of more than 16,500 — a far cry from the 652 students in that inaugural class.
The campus kicks off its celebrations with a “Dress Like It’s 1965” day Jan. 15, a campuswide costume contest judged by an alum who is a designer for the TV show “Mad Men.” UCSC also has released a music video tracing the campus’ evolution, featuring historical footage of its early days.
“UCSC at 50” Events
Jan. 15: “Dress Like 1965” at 12noon, Quarry Plaza, free — a costume contest judged by “Mad Men” designer and alum Tiffany White Stanton
Jan. 27: “Making the Cosmos Local” at 6 p.m., Kuumbwa Jazz Center, $10 — the first in a series of talks on global questions.
Jan. 29: Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation at 7 p.m., Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, free — Angela Davis speaks on racism and poverty.
Feb. 5: “50/50: 50 Artists from Five Decades” opening reception at 5 p.m., Sesnon Gallery, free — art exhibit features alumni.
Feb. 26: Anita Hill talk at 5:30 p.m., Colleges Nine and 10 Multipurpose Room, free — professor and author will speak on race and gender.
For a complete list, visit 50years.ucsc.edu.
UCSC History: A timeline of events of UC Santa Cruz
1961: UC purchases 1,918 acres of Cowell Home Ranch property for $2 million. Santa Cruz beat Almaden Valley in a close contest for the new campus’s site, planned for 27,500 students.
1965: UCSC welcomes its first class of 652 students.
1970: The banana slug is conceived as the school’s mascot, thanks to volleyball team member Dave Van Cleve, who decided the team needed a name if it was going to compete. PorterCollege opens and Kresge College follows the next year.
1971: New academic plan created for 1970 to 1980, revising the enrollment goal from 27,500 to between 10,000 to 15,000.
1978: Long Marine Lab opens.
1979: Campus begins offering letter grades to supplement narrative evaluations.
1980: The Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics is founded.
1982: Shakespeare Santa Cruzpresents its first season.
1988: UC Regents establish UC Observatories at Santa Cruz, to manage both Lick Observatory and UC’s part of the Keck Observatory.
1992: Alum and Los Angeles Times reporter Hector Tobar wins a Pulitzer Prize. Other Pulitzer-winning alumni include Laurie Garrett, Dana Priest, Annie Wells and Martha Mendoza.
1997: The Jack Baskin School of Engineering is founded.
2008: Undergraduate enrollment reaches 15,000.
2013: President Obama awards astronomy professor Sandra Faber the National Medal of Science.
Source: UC Santa Cruz and “The Origin of UC Santa Cruz” by William Doyle