University of California, Riverside
|Motto||Fiat lux (Latin)|
Motto in English
|Let there be light|
Public research university
|University of California|
|Endowment||$129.2 million (2016)|
|Chancellor||Kim A. Wilcox|
|Location||Riverside & Palm Desert, California, U.S.|
Rural (Palm Desert)
1,931 acres (781 ha) in total 
|Colors||Sky blue and Gold
|NCAA Division I – Big West|
The University of California, Riverside (UCR or UC Riverside), is a public research university and one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. The main campus sits on 1,900 acres (769 ha) in a suburban district of Riverside, California, United States, with a branch campus of 20 acres (8 ha) in Palm Desert. Founded in 1907 as the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside pioneered research in biological pest control and the use of growth regulators responsible for extending the citrus growing season in California from four to nine months. Some of the world's most important research collections on citrus diversity and entomology, as well as science fiction and photography, are located at Riverside.
UCR's undergraduate College of Letters and Science opened in 1954, the Regents of the University of California declared UCR a general campus of the system in 1959, and graduate students were admitted in 1961. To accommodate an enrollment of 21,000 students by 2015, more than $730 million has been invested in new construction projects since 1999. Preliminary accreditation of the UC Riverside School of Medicine granted in October 2012 and the first class of 50 students was enrolled in August 2013. It is the first new research-based public medical school in 40 years.
UCR is consistently ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse universities in the United States, the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings places UCR tied for 58th among top public universities, tied for 121st nationwide and ranks 16+ graduate school programs including the Graduate School of Education and the Bourns College of Engineering based on peer assessment, student selectivity, financial resources, and other factors. Washington Monthly ranked UCR 2nd in the United States in terms of social mobility, research and community service, while U.S. News ranks UCR as the fifth most ethnically diverse and, by the number of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants (42 percent), the 15th most economically diverse student body in the nation. Nearly two-thirds of all UCR students graduate within six years without regard to economic disparity. UCR's extensive outreach and retention programs have contributed to its reputation as a "campus of choice" for minority students, including LGBT students; in 2005, UCR became the first public university campus in the nation to offer a gender-neutral housing option.
UCR's sports teams are known as the Highlanders and play in the Big West Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, their nickname was inspired by the high altitude of the campus, which lies on the foothills of Box Springs Mountain. The UCR women's basketball team won back-to-back Big West championships in 2006 and 2007; in 2007, the men's baseball team won its first conference championship and advanced to the regionals for the second time since the university moved to Division I in 2001.
- 1 History
- 2 Campus
- 3 Academics
- 4 Libraries and collections
- 5 Student life
- 6 Alumni
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
At the turn of the 20th century, Southern California was a major producer of citrus, the region's primary agricultural export, the industry developed from the country's first navel orange trees, planted in Riverside in 1873. Lobbied by the citrus industry, the UC Regents established the UC Citrus Experiment Station (CES) on February 14, 1907, on 23 acres (9 ha) of land on the east slope of Mount Rubidoux in Riverside. The station conducted experiments in fertilization, irrigation and crop improvement. In 1917, the station was moved to a larger site, 475 acres (192 ha) near Box Springs Mountain.
The 1944 passage of the GI Bill during World War II set in motion a rise in college enrollments that necessitated an expansion of the state university system in California. A local group of citrus growers and civic leaders, including many UC Berkeley alumni, lobbied aggressively for a UC-administered liberal arts college next to the CES. State Senator Nelson Dilworth, former Assemblyman Philip L. Boyd and Riverside State Assemblyman John Babbage were instrumental in shepherding the legislation through the State Legislature. Governor Earl Warren signed the bill in 1949, allocating $2 million for initial campus construction.
Gordon S. Watkins, dean of the College of Letters and Science at UCLA, became the first provost of the new college at Riverside. Initially conceived of as a small college devoted to the liberal arts, he ordered the campus built for a maximum of 1,500 students and recruited many young junior faculty to fill teaching positions. He presided at its opening with 65 faculty and 127 students on February 14, 1954, remarking, "Never have so few been taught by so many."
UCR's enrollment exceeded 1,000 students by the time Clark Kerr became president of the UC system in 1958. Anticipating a "tidal wave" in enrollment growth required by the baby boom generation, Kerr developed the California Master Plan for Higher Education and the Regents designated Riverside a general university campus in 1959. UCR's first chancellor, Herman Theodore Spieth, oversaw the beginnings of the school's transition to a full university and its expansion to a capacity of 5,000 students. UCR's second chancellor, Ivan Hinderaker led the campus through the era of the free speech movement and kept student protests peaceful in Riverside. According to a 1998 interview with Hinderaker, the city of Riverside received negative press coverage for smog after the mayor asked Governor Ronald Reagan to declare the South Coast Air Basin a disaster area in 1971; subsequent student enrollment declined by up to 25% through 1979. Hinderaker's development of innovative programs in business administration and biomedical sciences created incentive for enough students to enroll at Riverside to keep the campus open.
In the 1990s, the UC experienced a new surge of enrollment applications, now known as "Tidal Wave II", the Regents targeted UCR for an annual growth rate of 6.3%, the fastest in the UC system, and anticipated 19,900 students at UCR by 2010. By 1995, African American, American Indian, and Latino student enrollments accounted for 30% of the UCR student body, the highest proportion of any UC campus at the time, the 1997 implementation of Proposition 209—which banned the use of affirmative action by state agencies—reduced the ethnic diversity at the more selective UC campuses but further increased it at UCR.
With UCR scheduled for dramatic population growth, efforts have been made to increase its popular and academic recognition, the students voted for a fee increase to move UCR athletics into NCAA Division I standing in 1998. In the 1990s, proposals were made to establish a law school, a medical school, and a school of public policy at UCR, with the UCR School of Medicine and the School of Public Policy becoming reality in 2012; in June 2006, UCR received its largest gift, 15.5 million from two local couples, in trust towards building its medical school. The Regents formally approved UCR's medical school proposal in 2006. Projected to be completed by 2013, it will be the first new medical school in 40 years built in California.
UCR's main campus sits at an elevation of 1,100 ft (340 m) to 1,450 ft (440 m) near Box Springs Mountain, 3 miles (5 km) east of downtown Riverside, and comprises 1,112 acres (450 ha) divided into eastern and western areas by the State Route 60 freeway.
East Campus, occupying approximately 600 acres (243 ha), hosts the core cluster of academic buildings and services. The original buildings that formed the earliest kernel of the campus included the UC Citrus Experiment Station, residential buildings, and barn, all of which are still in use, they were designed by Lester H. Hibbard, in association with H.B. Cody. Built by 1917 at a cost of $165,000, the architecture of the major buildings followed the Mission Revival style suggesting the Spanish colonial heritage of Southern California.
Further major construction largely ceased on the site until the groundbreaking for the College of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) in April 1951. A group of five buildings designed by different architects in a decidedly more Modern style were completed by 1954: the Rivera Library, Webber Hall, Geology Building, Physical Education Building and Watkins Hall, after the Regents declared UCR a "general campus" of the UC system in 1958, many new buildings and additions were laid out over the following decade. Following an east–west axis, new student residence halls and athletic facilities were developed along the southeastern quadrant of the main campus, while academic and research facilities were built along the central campus area closer to the freeway, the Bell Tower, one of only five carillons in California, was built in this period. Designed by A. Quincy Jones, the tower is 161 ft (49 m) tall and contains 48 bells, each weighing from 28 pounds (13 kg) to 5,091 pounds (2,309 kg), covering four chromatic octaves.
After the drop in enrollment and subsequent restructuring of academic programs in the 1970s, little capacity construction was undertaken over the next two decades. However, enrollment growth in the late 1980s justified considerable further campus expansion over the 1990s. Major additions built in the period include: Bourns Hall, completed in 1995; the Humanities & Social Science building, completed in 1996; and the Science Library, completed in 1998. The Pentland and Stonehaven residence halls were completed in 2000, and the Arts building was completed in 2001. Active construction projects include new buildings for Engineering and Materials Science, Psychology Research, and Genomics, the first phase of a new Commons was completed in 2007, and phase II is in development. Other ongoing projects include a new CHASS Instructional and Research Center and Students Academic Support Services Building, since 1999, more than $730 million has been invested in construction projects.
Of the 511 acres (207 ha) of UCR property constituting West Campus, approximately 216 acres (87 ha) along University Avenue have been developed. These include facilities such as University Extension, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Germplasm Repository, International Village (student housing), Human Resources and Highlander Hall. University Village, a mixed use commercial development, features a movie theater, stores, restaurants, office space, and an apartment complex, along with a parking structure and surface parking. Citrus groves and row crops occupy the remaining 295 acres (119 ha) stretching northwest to the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Le Conte Drive. Plans for future expansion include converting a portion of these fields into new UCR infrastructure.
The University of California, Riverside, has recently united its three downtown arts presentation venues under the umbrella name of the UCR ARTSblock, the ARTSblock is composed of the UCR/California Museum of Photography, The Sweeney Art Gallery, and the Culver Center of the Arts, a media lab and presentation facility. The three institutions reside side by side in the heart of downtown Riverside's historic pedestrian mall.
Palm Desert Graduate Center
The Richard J. Heckmann International Center for Entrepreneurial Management was founded in Palm Desert in 2001, after the 540-acre (219 ha) Coachella Valley Agricultural Research Station, it is UCR's second institutional presence in the Coachella Valley. Initially funded by a $6 million gift from Richard J. Heckmann, a water treatment entrepreneur, the institution was planned as a teaching and research center of the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the UCR School of Business Administration, the center encourages local entrepreneurship through the Coachella Valley Angel Network, an angel investment network. A further investment of $10 million from the State of California and a donation of 20 acres (8 ha) of land from the City of Palm Desert allowed for the opening of an expanded graduate center on April 15, 2005, adjacent to the California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus. The center is also home to university researchers in conservation biology, technology transfer and Native American studies. Master's level instruction in business management and creative writing is available at the center.
As a campus of the University of California system, UCR is governed by a Board of Regents and administered by a president, the current president is Janet Napolitano, and the administrative head of UCR is Kim Wilcox. UCR's academic policies are set by its Academic Senate, a legislative body composed of all UCR faculty members.
UCR is organized into four academic colleges, two professional schools, and several interdisciplinary divisions. UCR's liberal arts college, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, was founded in 1954, and began accepting graduate students in 1960, the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, founded in 1960, incorporated the CES as part of the first research-oriented institution at UCR; it eventually also incorporated the natural science departments formerly associated with the liberal arts college to form its present structure in 1974. UCR's newest academic unit, the Bourns College of Engineering, was founded in 1989. Comprising the professional schools are the Graduate School of Education, founded in 1968, and the UCR School of Business Administration, founded in 1970. These units collectively provide 81 majors and 52 minors, 48 master's degree programs, and 42 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs. UCR is the only UC campus to offer undergraduate degrees in creative writing and public policy and one of three UCs (along with Berkeley and Irvine) to offer an undergraduate degree in business administration. Through its Division of Biomedical Sciences, founded in 1974, UCR offers the Thomas Haider medical degree program in collaboration with UCLA. UCR's doctoral program in the emerging field of dance theory, founded in 1992, was the first program of its kind in the United States, and UCR's minor in lesbian, gay and bisexual studies, established in 1996, was the first undergraduate program of its kind in the UC system. A new BA program in bagpipes was inaugurated in 2007.
Institutional rankings of UC Riverside vary widely, depending on the criteria of the publication. For instance, UC Riverside was ranked the #8 college in the United States by the Social Mobility Index college rankings; in the 2017 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges", UCR was ranked tied for 118th among national universities; criteria include professor peer assessment, student selectivity and retention, as well as faculty resources, financial resources, and alumni giving. In the 2016 edition of the Washington Monthly college rankings, UCR ranked 12th among national universities. Washington Monthly assesses the quality of schools based on social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). Money magazine ranked UC Riverside 150th in the country out of the nearly 1500 schools it evaluated for its 2014 Best Colleges ranking. The Daily Beast ranked UC Riverside 153rd in the country out of the nearly 2000 schools it evaluated for its 2013 Best Colleges ranking. According to the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index published by Academic Analytics in 2006, UCR as an institution ranked 46th among top research universities considering such criteria as faculty publications, citations, research funding and other honors. Since 1997, more than 110 UCR faculty members have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the course of UCR's history, seven current or former faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and more than 50 have received Guggenheim Fellowships.
Economic and research impact
UCR operated under a $435 million budget in fiscal year 2005–06. The state government provided $153 million, student fees accounted for $111 million, the federal government financed $84 million, and $45 million came from university sales and services. Private support and other sources accounted for the remaining $18 million. Overall, monies spent at UCR have an economic impact of nearly $1 billion in California. Faculty members received nearly $87 million in research funding in 2005–06, mostly from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Total research expenditures at Riverside are significantly concentrated in agricultural science, accounting for 53% of total research expenditures spent by the university in 2002. Top research centers by expenditure, as measured in 2002, include the Agricultural Experiment Station, the Center for Environmental Research and Technology, the Center for Bibliographical Studies, the Air Pollution Research Center, and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.
Throughout UCR's history, researchers have developed more than 40 new citrus varieties and invented new techniques to help the $960 million-a-year California citrus industry fight pests and diseases. In 1927, entomologists at the CES introduced two wasps from Australia as natural enemies of a major citrus pest, the citrophilus mealybug, saving growers in Orange County $1 million in annual losses. This event was pivotal in establishing biological control as a practical means of reducing pest populations. In 1963, plant physiologist Charles Coggins proved that application of gibberellic acid allows fruit to remain on citrus trees for extended periods, the ultimate result of his work, which continued through the 1980s, was the extension of the citrus-growing season in California from four to nine months. In 1980, UC Riverside released the Oroblanco grapefruit, its first patented citrus variety, since then, the citrus breeding program has released other varieties such as the Melogold grapefruit, the Gold Nugget mandarin (or tangerine), and others that have yet to be given trademark names. To assist entrepreneurs in developing new products, UCR is a primary partner in the Riverside Regional Technology Park, which includes the City of Riverside and the County of Riverside, it also administers six reserves of the University of California Natural Reserve System. UCR recently announced a partnership with China Agricultural University to launch a new center in Beijing, which will study ways to respond to the country's growing environmental issues. UCR can also boast the birthplace of two name reactions in organic chemistry, the Castro-Stephens coupling and the Midland Alpine Borane Reduction.
Admissions and enrollment
(out of 1600)
For Fall 2015, UCR received 38,505 freshmen applications; 21,608 were admitted (56.1%). The average GPA of the enrolled freshmen was 3.69, while the average SAT scores were 545 for critical reading, 574 for math, and 549 for writing.
In 2006, 43.4 percent of admitted students were first generation college students, 38.7 percent came from low family income backgrounds, and 24 percent graduated from low-performing high schools as measured by Academic Performance Index (API) scores. In 2007, U.S. News ranked UCR as the third most ethnically diverse and, by the number of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants (42 percent), the 15th most economically diverse student body in the nation.
According to statistics released by the Education Trust, a national nonprofit, in 2005 UC Riverside graduated 65.3 percent of its students in six years, a figure consistent with national averages but behind the average set by the top five public research universities by as much as 22 percent. However, UCR's consistency with the national average is well above the median of 39 percent for low-income-serving institutions as calculated in 2006 by the National Center for Education Statistics, making the campus a model for successful approaches to diversity in higher education.
Libraries and collections
Total library collections at UCR comprise more than 2 million volumes, 14,017 electronic journals, 23,000 serial subscriptions, and 1.7 million microformats. Two large, four-story libraries house most of the physical collections, the 179,595 ft (54,741 m) Rivera library was constructed in 1954 and named after Tomás Rivera in 1985. It seats a capacity of 956 and houses general humanities and social science collections, as well as special collections, including the world's largest collection of science fiction, horror and fantasy literature, the 110,000-volume Eaton Collection. The Rivera Library also hosts the only U.S. Patent and Trademark Depository based on a UC campus. The 125,752 ft (38,329 m) Raymond L. Orbach Science Library, built in 1998, seats a capacity of 1,360 and houses 533,000 volumes in the physical, natural, agricultural, biomedical, engineering and computer sciences, with special strengths in the areas of citrus and sub-tropical horticulture, entomology, and arid lands agriculture. On November 3, 2009, the Science library was officially renamed the Raymond L. Orbach Science Library in honor of former Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach. Smaller libraries include the Media and Cultural Library, the Music Library, and a branch digital library in Palm Desert, the UCR Library is one of 116 members of the Association of Research Libraries, and is ranked 93rd in this group.
UCR's academic colleges administer significant museum collections in the arts and sciences, the Citrus Variety Collection constitutes 1,800 trees representing two of each of the 640 types of Citrus and 28 other related genera in the Rutaceae family, the largest such collection in the world. The Herbarium houses more than 110,000 dried plant specimens from across the Western hemisphere. UCR is also home to 40 acres (16 ha) of botanical gardens containing more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. The Gardens are located in the eastern foothills of the Box Springs Mountain on the University of California, Riverside campus, over four miles (6 km) of trails wind through many microclimates and hilly terrain. The Entomology Research Museum contains more than three million insect specimens, with particular strengths in Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Aphelinidae, Thysanoptera and Meloidae. The UCR/California Museum of Photography and Sweeney Art Gallery house UCR's primary art collections. The UCR/CMP includes the world's largest holding of vintage stereographs, one of the three great public collections of photographic apparatus in the US, and the University Print Collection of contemporary and historical images by over 1000 photographers. Located adjacent to the UCR/CMP, the Sweeney Art Gallery holds approximately 650 unique works, with especially strong collections from the modern to contemporary periods, including pieces by Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Millard Sheets and Kara Walker.
|Ethnic enrollment, 2014||Students|
|Hispanic and Latino Americans||37.3%|
|Two or More Races||3.9%|
Much of the student life on campus revolves around extensive local outreach and retention programs. Riverside enrolls the highest percentage of African American students of any of the 10 UC campuses and the second highest percentage of Latino students after Merced, prompting the Los Angeles Times and New York Times to run stories stating that UCR is a "campus of choice" for minority students. UCR was the first college in California to open a staffed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) resource center in 1993, the first UC campus to offer a LGBT minor studies program in 1996, and the first campus in the nation to offer a gender-neutral housing option in 2005; in recognition of this, The Advocate recognized UCR as one of the nation's best campuses for LGBT students in 2006, although it did not make the top 20. The Princeton Review listed UCR as a "Best Western College." While over 83 percent of students are non-white, there is a tendency for the different ethnic groups to self-segregate.
UCR's residence halls consist of three structures—Aberdeen-Inverness, Lothian, and Pentland Hills—which as of 2002 housed 2,930 students in triple, double and single rooms. In addition, UCR features several on-campus apartment complexes such as Stonehaven, Bannockburn Village, University Plaza, Falkirk, Oban, Glen Mor and International Village, which together house 959 students. UCR also offers student family housing at Canyon Crest, a low-density residential community that serves 268 and is slated for demolition to make room for higher-density residence halls. Glen Mor, an apartment housing complex adjacent to Pentland Hills, was opened in 2007, and the university also purchased a nearby apartment complex, which is now known as Falkirk, for student housing in 2007. About half of the student population lives in off-campus apartments, one-fourth commute, and one-fourth live on campus. Thirty percent of students remain on campus for the weekend.
Reflecting UCR's diversity, a number of residence halls have been established for specific social, cultural and academic needs. Ethnic and gender-oriented theme halls include Unete a Mundo, for students seeking to support Latino or Chicano students in acclimating to life at UCR; a Pan African Theme Hall for students interested in developing consciousness of African culture in relation to other cultures of the world; and Stonewall Hall, dedicated to students of all gender identities and sexual orientations who wish to live in a gender-neutral community. UCR's three academic colleges in the humanities, sciences and engineering fields are represented by respective theme halls, and halls exist for honor students and transfer students.
Student organizations and activities
UCR hosts over 375 registered student organizations, including the Associated Students of the University of California, Riverside (ASUCR), which represents undergraduates on administrative and policy issues. ASUCR is guided by a Senate composed of 16 elected officers, who represent the three undergraduate colleges in proportion to their enrollment, 10 Directors, who are in charge of the various parts of ASUCR, and a Judicial Council of 6, which adjudicates any cases involving personnel misconduct or interpretation of the Constitution. Membership is composed of all UCR students who pay mandatory activity fees. ASUCR assesses these fees and distributes funds to registered student groups on campus, including student lobbying groups, a right that ASUCR won in a federal court case against the Regents in 1999.
Of the registered student groups, 40 are fraternities and sororities. Nine men's fraternities belong to the North-American Interfraternity Conference; seven women's sororities belong to the National Panhellenic Conference; seven men's fraternities and ten women's sororities represent the National Multicultural Greek Council, and two others fall under the campus Raza Assembly and are unique to UCR. Thirteen percent of the undergraduate student body participates in Greek life, although chapter houses are not permitted. Including the Greek letter organizations, more than 60 student volunteer service organizations at UCR contribute to more than 100,000 hours of collective and individual service done in the community each year. Jewish student life has existed for over a decade through UCR Hillel.
Student media organizations include The Highlander student newspaper, currently published every Tuesday during the academic year. First published in 1954, The Highlander remains an independent student media outlet, it was an entirely self-funded organization until 2001, when ASUCR passed a funding referendum for it. Student fees from the referendum go towards overhead and printing costs, however The Highlander is primarily funded through its own advertising revenue; in 2003, The Highlander published a comic depicting a stereotypical Asian American graduate teaching assistant with poor English skills, inciting community backlash and prompting an apology from Editor-in-Chief Kahlil Ford. Other student news publications on campus include the Asian Community Times, Indian Time, Nuestra Cosa, Queeriosity, and the X-Factor Student Newspaper. Campus literary magazines include Mosaic, published at UCR since 1959, and Crate, published by graduate students in UCR's master's level creative writing program since 2005. UCR broadcasts over radio as KUCR at 88.3 FM. The station programs a variety of independent music, news and commentary.
On-campus entertainment events are planned by a 14-member Associated Students Program Board (ASPB), comprising six student-run divisions that include concerts, films and lectures, cultural events and special events, as well as a marketing and leadership division. ASPB's major events include the Block Party Concert, Student Film Festival, International Film Festival, World Fest, Welcome Week, Homecoming and Spring Splash.
Still other on-campus events take place at The Barn, one of the original buildings on campus grounds. Throughout the 60s', 70s' and 80s' popular up and coming bands played at The Barn including No Doubt and Radiohead, during the 90s' however, the university administration sought to avoid a "party school" stigma and did away with the concerts and events and remodeled the facility into a restaurant, The Big West Bar and Grill. As recently as the fall of 2007, concerts returned to The Barn and efforts are underway to rejuvenate it and once again make it into an on-campus venue attracting students as well as the larger university community.
The Graduate Student Association of the University of California, Riverside (GSAUCR) is ASUCR's counterpart on the graduate level, it is guided by a Graduate Student Council consisting of representatives from every department on campus. GSAUCR assesses fees required of all graduate students and uses them to fund research awards and colloquiums, conference travel grants, and speaker funds.
UCR's varsity teams compete in the Big West Conference of NCAA Division I. Programs include men's and women's soccer, cross country, basketball, track and field, baseball, softball, tennis, golf and women's volleyball, after students voted to assess themselves $35 a quarter to fund the athletic programs in 1998, men's and women's soccer and golf were added, and the athletic department switched from NCAA Division II in 2000. While at Division II level, UCR produced 5 national championship teams in men's baseball and women's volleyball, as of 2006, UCR had produced 17 individual national champions, 175 All-Americans and many conference and regional champions. The men's golf team represented UCR in the 2004 and 2005 NCAA West Regionals after winning back-to-back Conference Championships in those respective years while having three athletes ranked in the top 100 in the country; in 2006, 2007, and 2010 the UCR women's basketball team represented the conference in the Division I tournament but lost all three times in the first round. In December 2008, the UCR women's basketball team upset the #16-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores.
In 2005 the women's soccer team competed in the first round of the NCAA tournament; in 2007, UCR's baseball team won their first Big West championship and reached the Division I postseason for the second time since 2003, and the cross country team sent its first two athletes to the national championships. Football was played until 1975, and the team won two CCAA championships before the sport was discontinued because of low attendance and in anticipation of the impact of Title IX regulations.
The volleyball and basketball teams play home games in the Student Recreation Center Arena (SRC), which seats 3,168. The baseball team competes at the Riverside Sports Complex, just off campus at the corner of Blaine and Rustin streets. UCR graduate Troy Percival personally built UCR's baseball clubhouse to major league quality standards. Softball is played at the Amy S. Harrison Field, named after a UCR graduate who donated $300,000 towards its upgrade in 2004. Adjacent to the softball field are the soccer and track fields, the soccer field was resurfaced with artificial turf in 2007. In 2011, the old track and field facility, which had bleachers that dated back to the 1950s and a track surface that was over 15 years old, was completely torn out and replaced with a brand new facility.
Non-varsity student sports clubs that compete with other area universities include the Rugby Football Club, established in 2006, which plays in the Southern California Rugby Football Union, the karate program is provided through the UC Riverside Recreation Center's Leisure Line classes. The classes are provided by top of the line USA Shotokan karate team coaches from the American JKA Karate Association, an association that has been in the city for over 40 years, it is one of the largest collegiate programs in the United States, that take competitors to local, national and international competitions. A Men's and Women's Club Soccer team also competes in the West Coast Soccer Association.
In 1954, UCR's founding class adopted the name "Highlanders", reflecting the campus' high altitude, after the student body passed a referendum to move to Division I competition in 1998, the bear mascot, formerly called "Scotty", was professionally redesigned to look more ferocious. The new mascot featured a half-blue face in homage to William Wallace, the subject of the movie Braveheart; in line with the Scottish motif, UCR assembles a bagpipe band made up of students and staff who play at graduation and other campus events. The blue and gold tartan worn by the pipe band and the mascot is a registered trademark of the University of California, for the women's basketball team's first appearance at the NCAA Tournament in 2006, UCR sent 22 members of the pipe band to play at halftime.
National Championship Teams (Division II)
- Baseball (1977 and 1982).
- Women's Volleyball (1977 – AIAW, 1982 and 1986).
- Women's Soccer (1983) First place in the California Collegiate Women's Soccer Conference.
More than 94,000 alumni have graduated from UCR over the course of its history. A 13,865-square-foot (1,288.1 m2) Alumni and Visitors Center was established in 2007. It is used as a central gathering place for alumni and holds several facilities for use including meeting rooms, a formal board room, a central lobby area, a library, several alumni affairs offices, and a café.
Some of the most notable alumni include the following:
- Steve Breen: Editorial cartoonist and two time Pulitzer Prize winner (1998 and 2009.)
- Billy Collins: The 11th U.S. Poet Laureate.
- Brenda Martinez: an American track and field athlete.
- Dr. Richard R. Schrock: Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
- Tim D. White: Paleoanthropologist – named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People of 2010" for his work with Lucy, one of the oldest known Hominin.
- Charles E. Young: UCR's first student body president, later became Chancellor of UCLA.
- University of California Students Association
- Katherine Siva Saubel – Cahuilla people leader and scholar, received the Chancellor's Medal from UCR
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