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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Richard C. Atkinson served as the University of California's seventeenth president from 1995 to 2003. The Atkinson years were a time of dramatic expansion and landmark issues for UC. Enrollments, research programs, and funding all grew rapidly to new highs. The University faced the imperative of pursuing diversity in the post-affirmative action age, created new paradigms for industry-university cooperative research, and challenged the validity of the SAT I, the nation's most widely used college entrance examination.

The speeches, lectures, and other papers gathered here document these and a variety of other issues. The principal theme of this collection is the University of California itself, and the role it plays as a public research university in a diverse, dynamic, and knowledge-based society. We hope you will enjoy this introduction to the events and challenges of the Atkinson presidency.

Presidential and Scientific Papers—Richard Atkinson

There are 87 publications in this collection, published between 1965 and 2021.
Academic Quality (34)

Educational Leadership for California

Testimony on demand for the education doctorate before the California Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education.

Teach Children to Read? Higher Education Is Lending a Hand

Opinion piece about summer institutes for California’s K-12 teachers sponsored by UC and the California State University.

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Achievement versus Aptitude (6)

UC Takes a Look at SAT I's Worth

Opinion piece about the role of standardized testing and the SAT I.

Rethinking Admissions: US Public Universities in the Post-Affirmative Action Age

In the aftermath of SP-1 and Proposition 209, the University of California has adopted several strategies in order to maintain access. In the long term, the university seeks to work with individual students to improve their academic preparation and to expand partnerships with the K-12 public sector. The state’s need to educate more of its minority citizens is urgent, however, so in the shorter term the University has focused on three strategies in its admissions process: comprehensive review, Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC), and the Dual Admissions Program (DAP). The paper also discusses the use of standardized tests in judging students’ readiness for university-level work, and especially changes to the SAT tests that have come about partly in response to UC policies. The paper concludes by assessing the ongoing debates over racial preferences in college admissions.

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Education (8)

Opportunity in a Democratic Society: Race and Economic Status in Higher Education

In July 1995, the University of California s Board of Regents voted to ban consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions and employment—a ban that was extended to all state agencies when the voters of California approved Proposition 209 in November 1996. This paper discusses the national controversy over affirmative action and analyzes the experience of the University of California as a case study in how an elite public university responded to the end of nearly three decades of affirmative action. It concludes that profound social and demographic change in American society since the 1960s, especially the growth of income inequality, requires a rethinking of affirmative action, and of how the goal of diversity can be achieved in elite public universities.

The Future Arrives First in California

Article on challenges facing the University of California.

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Race and Diversity (3)

Perspective on Diversity: UC Is Unwaveringly Committed

Opinion piece on UC’s efforts to achieve diversity without the use of race and ethnicity as factors in admissions.

Admission to the University of California

Opinion piece about the challenges of expanding opportunities for students without regard to race and ethnicity, published in the San Francisco Chronicle, April 1, 1998. Reprinted in the Los Angeles Daily News, the Santa Barbara News-Press, and the Oakland Tribune.

Research on Human Memory (3)

Mathematical Models for Memory and Learning

This paper was prepared for the Third Conference on Learning, Remembering, and Forgetting, sponsored by the New York Academy of Science at Princeton, New Jersey, October 3-6, 1965.

Some Two-Process Models for Memory

A general theoretical framework is developed in which to view memory and learning.  The basic model is presented in terms of a memory system having two central components: a transient-memory buffer and a long-term store. . . . The model is applied to a set of experiments on paired-associate memory with good success.

This paper was read at the Symposium on Mathematical Models of Psychological Processes, XVIII International Congress of Psychology, Moscow, USSR, August, 1966.

The Atkinson Presidency (10)

University of Chicago Alumni Medal

Remarks on the occasion of receiving the medal.

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The Research University (17)

Present Challenges of a Research University

Remarks at the conference “University in Transition,” University of California, Berkeley, March 1997.

The California Solution

Keynote address at the California Coalition on Science and Technology Summit.

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The University and the Economy (2)

It Takes Cash to Keep Ideas Flowing

Opinion piece on the need for public investment in education and research.

University Admissions (2)

Dual Admission Proposal

Letter to UC Academic Council chair proposing an alternative path to supplement the University’s current admissions process.

UC Wants More Transfers from Community Colleges

Opinion piece about UC’s efforts to boost community college-to-UC student transfers.

University of California (2)

Robert Gordon Sproul

Article on Sproul’s presidency of the University of California.

Message at the Beginning of the Academic Year

Letter to members of the UC community on the exchange of divergent viewpoints.