Focus to Be Liberal Arts : UC San Diego Aiming for 5th College in ‘88

Times Staff Writer

UC San Diego administrators, seeking to capitalize on continued enrollment growth, are moving to open a fifth undergraduate college that they believe will broaden their image among high school applicants who wrongly view the 25-year-old university as a factory for science and engineering majors.

As yet unnamed, the college is scheduled to open in the fall of 1988, focusing on international relations and comparative cultures in an effort to enhance the university’s standing as a liberal arts institution.

“We are not Caltech South. We’re a real university,” said Stanley Chodorow, associate vice-chancellor for academic planning. “But to get students in high school to understand that, when their friends in science and engineering are going here because they’re interested in that,” has proven difficult, he said.


Despite the presence of some strong programs in the arts and humanities, UCSD’s “Caltech South” image has some grounding in reality. About 54% of the university’s undergraduates declare majors in science and engineering, Chodorow said.

They are enrolled in the four current colleges--Revelle, Muir, Third and Warren--which are separate schools of approximately 2,500 to 3,000 undergraduates, each with its own educational philosophy, geographic section of the campus, dormitories and dining room. Their purpose is to scale down the size of the university and give students a choice of approaches to the UCSD curriculum, said Joseph Watson, vice-chancellor for undergraduate affairs.

For example, Revelle College, which has a sizable contingent of science majors, stresses a heavy load of required courses. (Undergraduates there wear T-shirts reading “Revellies do it because it’s required.”) Muir College, where many students study the arts and humanities, asks students to take a smaller number of required courses to keep their curricula flexible. However, there also are engineers in Muir and non-science majors in Revelle.

Because of projections that the campus will continue to grow, consensus began growing at UCSD years ago that a fifth undergraduate college would be necessary. By the end of the decade, UCSD will have at least 15,000 undergraduates, up from the 12,110 enrolled last fall, Chodorow predicted.

A preliminary plan approved by UCSD’s academic senate in May calls for the school to “educate students about several cultures and help them understand cultures comparatively” by balancing the study of foreign cultures with Western and American civilization. Students will be required to master a foreign language, learn computer and math skills, and study fine arts as a means of cultural expression.

The international relations theme will also link the college to UCSD’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, scheduled to open in the fall of 1987, further establishing the university as a center for the study of the Far East and the Americas, Chodorow said.

The college should open with about 1,000 students in September, 1988, and grow to include about 3,000 students and 150 faculty by the early 1990s, Chodorow said. A provost, to be selected this fall, and a committee of faculty will plan the specifics of the programs to be offered.

“It’s very hard when you’re in a steady state to change,” Chodorow said. “But this is an opportunity and we’re taking advantage of it.”

While most of the planning committee endorsed the theme, two members publicly dissented. Music professor Gerald Balzano wanted fifth college students to focus on the study of computers, particularly as tools to learn other disciplines.

“For my money, that vision of the new college is more timely,” he said. “From the student’s point of view it’s more attractive because we’re trying to get the student ready for the real world.”

And Stanley Mills, a professor of biology, believed that the international relations and comparative culture themes should be elective, with requirements including at least one year of English and the study of American history. Mills said that he has found that his senior-level science students have had little training in their native tongue.

“The difficulty I find with them is that they are not at home in the English language. They don’t speak well. Relatively few have read a poem in the English language at this campus,” he said.

The fifth college will grow up in what is now known as the Matthews campus area, where many temporary buildings house UCSD offices. That section of the campus is bounded by Old Miramar Road on the north, Interstate 5 on the east, Gilman Drive on the south and Myers Road on the west.

Labs, offices and classrooms for all five colleges are scheduled to be built there in coming years, and dormitory rooms for 500 to 600 new fifth college freshmen and sophomores will be added. The cost of the school cannot be separated from the cost of improving the rest of the university, Chodorow said.