UC RIVERSIDE (visited 1/16/14)
“Riverside is up and coming – it’s the place to be,” said our tour guide, Sierra, a local third-year student majoring in biology with hopes of being a large-animal vet. Although now one of the 9 UC campuses, UCR started as a Citrus Research Station extension of UC Berkeley just over 50 years ago. They still have extensive citrus groves on campus with 2 trees each of 1000 different citrus trees on campus (we got to sample the kumquats!) – and we learned that Cuties were developed on campus!
There are a lot of wonderful academic things going on at UCR. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest on campus, housing about 2/3 of the majors. This is the only UC that offers a major in Creative Writing – and they house the world’s largest collection of fantasy, SciFi, Horror, and dystopian literature with 100,000 volumes. They offer a Law and Society program combining Sociology, PoliSci, and Anthropology. This corresponds to the current year’s “theme” of Justice; the campus hosts activities, lectures, and other special events to highlight this theme.
Sciences are strong, particularly Health and Agricultural departments, with UCR ranking “Top 2 in Bugs.” There’s a seismograph on campus, and they boast the most complete mastodon skeleton. One of the Botany Profs worked as an advisor creating the plants on Avitar. Biology is one of the biggest majors, and the university opened a med school this year, setting aside 24 seats for UCR students.
Ten percent of their students are in the Engineering program (which is also the most-funded department). They offer a BS/MS in 4 of their 9 engineering programs; students major in physics and then the engineering of their choice. Their facial-recognition program is better than MIT’s! Students interested in business (another of the three biggest majors) start in the pre-business track for two years; with a minimum GPA, they can continue on and then concentrate starting the 3rd year.
The student body is diverse, with UCR ranking #1 in California and #12 in the country in terms of diversity. The Student Activity Board works towards building school spirit, particularly revolving around the 17 DI sports teams with things like bonfires and sporty birthday parties. Seventy-five percent of freshmen live on campus, and housing is guaranteed for two years. 4000 students total live in the dorms. UC owns apartment complexes on and off campus, but there are no RAs in these buildings like there are in the traditional dorms. There are a lot of things do around campus; the Transit Authority is free for students with their IDs (the metro station is close to campus), and students can rent Zip Cars (and can have their own cars on campus).