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Founder’s Rock marks the beginnings of UC

By Susan Cerny
Saturday March 03, 2001

Berkeley Observed 

Looking back, seeing ahead 


The University of California was founded in 1868, but its origins date back to 1860 when the College of California, a small, private institution then located in Oakland, purchased thirty acres of land for the “benefits of a country location.”  

On April 16, 1860, the Trustees of the College of California met at the location of Founder’s Rock to dedicate their new campus.  

Among those present were the Reverends S. H. Willey, D. B. Cheney, Henry Durant, and Frederick Billings. Billings is credited with choosing the name “Berkeley” for the college, and popular tradition has him standing on the rock when the name “Berkeley” came to him. 

In 1866 the California legislature, established the College of Agriculture, Mining, and Mechanical Arts.  

Two years later, with the passage of the Charter Act by the legislature the new state college joined with the College of California, and the University of California was formed. 

Founder's Rock, located at Hearst Avenue and Gayley Road, is a natural outcropping of unusual geologic composition which may have been thrust up by activity centuries ago on the nearby Hayward Fault.  

It was once the most prominent feature in the surrounding landscape. The plaque commemorating Founders' Rock was placed there by the graduating class of 1896.  

Susan Cerny, author of Berkeley Landmarks, writes this column in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association