Archived News


June 26, 2008


June 25, 2008

The University of California, Davis, will kick off its centennial celebration this summer at the California State Fair in Sacramento, filling a 6,000-square-foot pavilion with an exhibition titled "Dream Big."  It will showcase the campus' development from farm school to a dynamic university for the arts and sciences, recognized worldwide for education and research in agriculture, health care, the environment, alternative energy and global understanding.

 "The exhibit will tell the story of a university that has evolved from 18 students to 30,000 today," said Assistant Vice Chancellor Bob Segar, who leads the centennial planning team. The public will again be able to visit the School of Veterinary Medicine's State Fair Livestock Nursery, one of the most enduring and educational fair exhibits.

The state fair runs at Cal Expo from Aug. 15 through Labor Day, Sept. 1, and the UC Davis Centennial celebration continues the next month on the Davis campus with a Fall Festival chock-full of events open to the public.

"One-hundred-year birthdays are very rare, not-to-be-missed occasions," Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said. "Please join us in celebrating UC Davis' first century of truly astonishing achievement and service. With your help, our second century is sure to be even more remarkable than our first!"

In the university's first 100 years, nearly 200,000 men and women have become UC Davis alumni -- 100 of whom will be featured in photos at the state fair exhibition. The centennial display will show the university's great diversity, and fairgoers will be able to spin the photos around to read short biographies of the alumni's many career paths and accomplishments.

The exhibition will tell more of the UC Davis story through artifacts from university collections (artwork and a 1908 graduation dress, for example), and via fun, hands-on exhibits (like a biodigester where you can toss in food scraps and see how they are turned into energy). "We hope people will walk out of there and say, 'Wow, I didn't know UC Davis did all that,' "Segar said.


On campus, the centennial celebration begins in earnest with the chancellor's Fall Convocation. At this year's address, Wednesday, Sept. 24, Vanderhoef plans to announce the Centennial Year of Service, during which members of the campus community will be encouraged to participate in service projects that are meaningful to them. 

Then, mark your calendars for the Fall Festival, Friday through Wednesday, Oct. 10-15, celebrating UC Davis old and new; alumni, athletics and the arts; and the campus's connection to the community of Davis.

The Fall Festival will begin with the public opening and dedication, on Friday, Oct. 10, of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the campus' south entry. "You won't recognize the entry to campus when you come in during the centennial year," Segar said. Acres of vineyards will spread between Interstate 80 and the wine and food institute.

The first of two Fall Festival events at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10. In the center's Distinguished Speakers Series, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst and a staff writer for The New Yorker, will address the topic "One Hundred Years: A Look Inside the Supreme Court," including key moments involving UC Davis. (Ticket information: <>.)

Saturday, Oct. 11, features the Golden Society Brunch for alumni who graduated 50 years ago or earlier, and then the homecoming football game against Southern Utah under the lights in the new Aggie Stadium.

The Fall Festival moves into downtown Davis on Sunday, Oct. 12, for a street fair and birthday party thrown by the Davis Chamber of Commerce and the city of Davis. "Celebrate UC Davis" is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. along Third Street. Look for something very special at Third and C streets: 100 birthday cakes at the Farmers Market Pavilion at Central Park.

At 3 p.m. that same day at the Mondavi Center, the festival continues with the award-winning dance company Instituto Mazatlan Bellas Artes de Sacramento, presenting Corazon de Mexico, described as "a visual fairytale with vivid characters in lavishly colorful costumes flowing from one folk dance to the next in a single choreographic symphony." (Ticket information: <>.)

The Fall Festival concludes Wednesday, Oct. 15, on the Quad, with side-by-side showcases on the east and west halves:

* The Davis Chamber of Commerce's Day on the Quad, where city businesses introduce themselves to the student community. This annual event becomes more significant in UC Davis' centennial year because of the nascent chamber's role in convincing the state to pick Davis as the site of the University Farm in 1906.

* The annual Activities Fair, where more than 150 student organizations promote themselves at the start of the new academic year.

*The Quad will be the center of attention at noon Oct. 15, with the unveiling of the Centennial Walk -- a reconstructed path, 12-feet wide (twice as wide as what is there now).

"Anybody who has an association with UC Davis really values the Quad," Segar said, "and this is a chance to add quality to this well-loved place."

By launching the centennial celebration at the state fair, the university is literally going back to its roots. During the 1899 state fair, Peter J. Shields, then secretary of the California State Agricultural Society, engaged in a conversation about the dairy industry -- and that conversation led to his dream of founding an agriculture school.

With a charter faculty of 16 regular instructors from UC Berkeley's College of Agriculture and 12 nonresident instructors, UC Davis launched a century of contributions to state, national and global agricultural progress.

The first residential class, in January 1909, numbered 18 -- all men, because North Hall had been designed as a men-only dormitory. (North Hall is still standing, now a home for a variety of student services; it is next to South Hall, built in 1912 as a dorm and since converted to student services, too.)

During the campus' first century, the School of Veterinary Medicine welcomed its first class in 1948.

Fast forward a century to this fall: The Centennial Class that arrives on campus in September will number about 5,000, compared with the 109 men and women who attended the first courses in fall 1908 and arranged for room and board in town.

For Centennial news and a calendar of events, please go to <>.

Media contact:

* Mitchel Benson, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9844,