Quick History – University of California, Riverside

By Philip Falcone |

One of only nine University of California schools across the state, Riverside is home to a prestigious “R1” research institution. The history of the University of California Riverside predates—by several decades—the official founding date of 1954. In 1913 the University of California Riverside Citrus Experiment Station relocated from downtown Riverside to a location at the base of the Box Springs Mountains—today the campus of UCR. For thirty years this site was home to the location where citrus were tested and examined for knowledge on better growing methods, harmful bugs, and ways to make the fruit more desirable.

Following the 1945 passage of the GI Bill, colleges saw a great demand and increase in enrollment as servicemembers returned from war and had interest in higher education. This demand caused the University of California system to expand and look for new campus locations. A 1947 committee of the UC system found that an expansion of the Citrus Experiment Station was a prudent move as it had open land and proximity to the city center. $4 million were allocated to the construction of the new campus.

Upon opening in 1954, UCR was a small liberal arts school. Plans were soon underway by university leadership to expand from a liberal arts school to a complete undergraduate university. In 1959, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and David were all added into the UC system of schools as general undergraduate campuses and no longer specialty schools in areas of citrus, agriculture, or other fields.

Since then, UCR has grown steadily both in terms of its physical footprint and enrollment. Being named twice in recent years as the number one school in the nation for social mobility. In 2022 the University of California Riverside is a school of choice by students from around the world for their signature fields of entomology, citrus, agriculture, botany and more—all nods to the earliest days of the institution and remaining a specialty skill 110 years later.