We started as the university farm

Students gather around an animal hide.
In less than a decade, UC Davis was winning national acclaim for its livestock expertise. (UC Davis/archival photo)


We first opened our doors in 1908 as the University Farm, the research and science-based instruction extension of UC Berkeley. As the century evolved, our mission expanded beyond agriculture to match a larger understanding of how we should be serving the public. By 1959, UC Davis had grown into a general campus with its own personality and strengths.

Over the years, as our geographical footprint developed, each new UC Davis presence — in Tahoe, Sacramento, Bodega Bay, Tulare, San Diego and China, to name a few — has strengthened our ability to serve the public through research, academics and public service.


UC Davis is known worldwide for our expertise in agriculture and veterinary medicine. But how did we become one of the top 10 public universities in the United States? Check out our milestones.

In the early days

Black and white photo of an early English class.
At the Farm School, students took English as part of their curriculum. (UC Davis/archival photo)
  • 1908: The Farm School launches the first farmers’ short courses, similar to intensive extension classes of today.
  • 1909: After University Farm School opens in January with 18 students, in May, more than 2,200 people attend the first Picnic Day.
  • 1915: The Division of Agricultural Engineering is established (later named the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering).
  • 1916: Animals from the University Farm herd sweep championships at the Chicago International Livestock Show.
  • 1922: A four-year degree program is established, and the Davis campus is renamed the Northern Branch of the College of Agriculture. 
  • 1938: The campus is renamed the College of Agriculture at Davis. One hundred and six courses are taught by 76 faculty.
  • 1940: The Division of Chemistry acquires the first patents for the entire University of California.
  • 1946: The School of Veterinary Medicine is established. 
  • 1949: Graduate degrees are awarded at a campus commencement.
  • 1951: The College of Letters and Science is established

We became a general campus

Students lead a cow around campus.
Two students lead a cow around the corner on campus near Haring Hall, the first home of the School of Veterinary Medicine. (UC Davis/archival photo)
  • 1959: The regents designate UC Davis and UC Riverside general campuses.
  • 1962: The College of Engineering opens.
  • 1965: The School of Law opens.
  • 1966: The School of Medicine opens.
  • 1975: The veterinary school is ranked first in the nation by a national survey of deans.
  • 1977: A 10-year purchase agreement with the UC Davis Medical Center is signed with Sacramento County for its county hospital.
  • 1981: The Graduate School of Management opens as the Graduate School of Administration.
  • 1989: The campus leads the nation in the number of Ph.D.s awarded in the biological sciences.
  • 1990: The football team wins its 20th consecutive league championship, a national record.
  • 1998: Men’s basketball team wins NCAA DII national championship.

UC Davis in the 21st century

Students gather in a lab for a wine crush.
Using state-of-the-art equipment, students calibrate, place monitors and assemble barrels into Rodgers fermenters at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)