The University of California was founded in 1868 as a public, state-supported land-grant institution. It was written into the State Constitution of 1879 as a public trust to be administered by an independent governing board, the Regents of the University of California. The Board of Regents includes the following 28 members: seven ex officio members, 20 members appointed by the Governor with the approval of the Senate for staggered 12-year terms, and one student appointed by the Board.
The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education designates the University of California as the primary state-supported academic agency for research. In addition, the University serves students at all levels of higher education in California and is the public segment primarily responsible for awarding the doctorate and several professional degrees, including in medicine and law. Joint doctoral degrees may also be awarded with the California State University.
The University is headed by a President who is responsible for overall policy development, planning, and resource allocation. Chancellors are responsible for the management of individual campuses. The Regents have delegated authority to the Academic Senate to determine conditions for admission, degree requirements, and approval of courses and curricula. Special faculty committees serve in an advisory capacity to the Regents, the President, and the Chancellors on a variety of matters.
There are ten campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. Nine of these are general campuses and offer undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. The San Francisco campus is devoted exclusively to the health sciences. The University operates five teaching hospitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, and Orange counties. The University has more than 800 research centers, institutes, laboratories, and programs in all parts of the state. The University also provides oversight of one United States Department of Energy laboratory and is in partnerships with private industry to manage two additional Department of Energy laboratories.
The University of California conducts higher education programs in four major areas:
- Instruction of qualified individuals through undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs and postdoctoral programs on each of its general campuses.
- Research directed toward advancing the understanding of arts and sciences and the interpretation of human history.
- Education for professional careers.
- Public service contributing to the fulfillment of the University's obligation to disseminate knowledge.
Because department programs drive the need for infrastructure investment, each department assesses its need for new or renovated facilities and has significant input into capital planning and the capital outlay program to support this need. For the specifics on the University of California's Capital Outlay Program see "Infrastructure Overview."