Contact Us

Emerging as a Major Force in Education

In the years surrounding World War II, two powerful and visionary men began a partnership to reinforce the perception and the reality of the University of California as an international university of first rank. They were Governor Earl Warren, Class of 1912, later Chief Justice of the United States, and University President Robert Gordon Sproul, Class of 1913.

Sproul took office in 1930 just as the Depression sent state support plummeting. Undaunted, he sought private funding to make up the loss, and when Warren became governor in 1943, Sproul strengthened relations between the university and the state. Sproul stressed that the university should compete with the nation’s top private institutions for faculty members. Over the years Sproul brought brilliant scholars in virtually every branch of learning to Berkeley and helped build campus facilities suitable for their work.

As the university’s academic stature grew, so did the institution’s size. Starting with the founding of UCLA in 1919, the university transitioned over the decades into what is now a statewide system of 10 campuses. Sproul’s tenure from 1930–58 remains the longest of any UC president, and he led the university through an era of unprecedented growth, guiding its emergence as a major force in higher education.

Today, Berkeley continues to shape the field of education while influencing the lives of many young people. One program, the Principal Leadership Institute, prepares aspiring educational leaders to improve teaching and learning in urban schools throughout the Bay Area. Established in 2000 at the Graduate School of Education, this highly regarded program was created through the generosity of philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring.

The university recognizes the importance of well-trained experts in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to the nation’s economic vitality. Along with advancing education in these disciplines, Berkeley is dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented students pursuing degrees and careers in STEM fields. One notable effort is Cal NERDS, a program that houses several science-diversity programs and initiatives, including the Bergeron Scholars. This scholarship program is made possible by a generous donation from Cal parents Sandra and Doug Bergeron and is designed to increase the representation of women in STEM careers by providing financial support and professional mentoring opportunities for female undergraduates in STEM majors.

Back to stories