Irvine Among Campuses to Absorb New Student Wave, UC Chief Says

Times Staff Writer

Downplaying the possible addition of a new University of California campus anytime soon, UC President David P. Gardner told Orange County audiences Tuesday that UC Irvine and five other UC campuses must take more students in the foreseeable future than planned.

Gardner said he thinks that only UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco will not have to accommodate greatly increased enrollments. "I don't think they can or should grow anymore," he said.

But campuses in Irvine, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Davis, San Diego and Santa Barbara must take more students--more than projected for each of the campuses--if the UC system is to absorb an expected wave of qualified applicants, Gardner said.

Adding new buildings to existing campuses is more feasible--and cheaper--than building a new campus, he said.

Because UCI is already cramped for classroom space, Gardner said, new buildings are needed.

A state bond issue is "essential" to pay for new university and college buildings for UCI and the rest of the UC system, Gardner said.

In a speech to the Orange County Industrial League at the Irvine Hilton Hotel, and later in a meeting with editors of the Orange County Edition of The Times, Gardner said far more high school students than projected are applying to the UC system.

The glut of qualified student applicants comes despite decreasing numbers of high school graduates in recent years, Gardner said, making the current avalanche of students seeking admission "wholly unexpected and dramatic."

There has been increasing speculation in recent weeks that the UC Board of Regents might authorize a 10th or 11th new campus to handle the boom.

On Tuesday, however, Gardner said he prefers delaying such a move. He said a new campus to accommodate about 5,000 students would cost at least $250 million to start.

At UC Irvine, where the burgeoning student body has led to many overcrowded classrooms in recent years, university officials have even rented an off-campus movie theater for classroom space. New buildings are going up, but UCI officials have said the overcrowding will continue until enrollment demand tapers off.

But Gardner said Tuesday that UCI is not likely to see such a tapering off. He said the UC system is braced for explosive growth through the year 2000.

The growth spurt started in 1980, when a higher percentage of eligible students began applying to UC, he said.

"While the top 12 1/2% (of the state's high school graduates) are eligible for UC, historically only 5% have applied for admission," he said. "But between 1981 and 1987, that 5% rose to 8%.

"So even though the number of high school students is declining in California, and will decline until 1992, when you apply 8% even to a reduced base, it provides more students than we ever expected at the University of California."

Gardner also noted that because of the influx, many straight-A students, even those with 4.0 grade-point averages, often cannot be admitted to the UC campus of their choice. But UC will continue to offer such qualified students admission to "some (UC) campus, though not maybe the first choice, or maybe (not) the major that the student applied for."

"I do not want to consider the possibility of the University of California having to turn away students who are qualified for UC," Gardner said.

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