University Boom Puts La Jolla Center Stage

    Joseph Stubbs, a former Revelle College student from the mid-’70s, still remembers the time-honored UCSD tradition of streaking after the organic chemistry final. He also remembers the Watermelon Drop. Most of all, he recalls the simplicity of the university’s campus during its early years.

    “We used to joke about the Central Library — we called it the not-so-central library,” Stubbs said. “At the bottom of Revelle they had a deli place and a foosball game and that was about the extent of it, and the bookstore was simply that, where you got your books.”

    Stubbs also reminisces about the openness of the campus and surrounding areas that he experienced during his undergraduate years.

    “In 1971, the AAU Cross Country [Championship] race was held right next to where the Central Library is because there were just open dirt roads,” Stubbs said. “Now it’s just completely grown over and expanded miles east of the campus where there was nothing. You kind of miss that but I guess growth and progress — you’ll never be able to stop it.”

    Currently a Chula Vista resident, Stubbs, in revisiting the campus and La Jolla years after his time at UCSD, noticed the physical changes that the area had undergone.

    “[La Jolla’s] become so much more congested,” Stubbs said. “When we went there you could zip down and get to La Jolla and get back out so easily because there was nothing there. The area around UCSD was just open land and it kind of made it a special place because it was a college up onto itself.”

    However, Stubbs believes that while La Jolla’s population growth has made student transportation more of a struggle, the university has still been able to retain its old charm.

    “It’s bigger but a lot of the things still remain the same,” Stubbs said. “[It has] maintained its beauty even though [it has] grown so much. It has maintained its open spaces.”

    Meanwhile, Rafael Andrade, a former Thurgood Marshall College student, has noticed changes curbed toward the university’s social responsibility.

    Andrade recalls a sit-in he attended with his peers in order to institute the name Emiliano Zapata for the college now named Thurgood Marshall, which in the ’70s was still just Third College.

    Although the sit-in did not prove ultimately successful, Andrade feels as though such political and social student activity has somewhat faded from the overall campus atmosphere.

    “It seems to me that we have gotten a lot more conservative,” Andrade said. “Back in the ’60s and ’70s, there was a strong student movement and students were a lot more politically involved, at least when I visited. I don’t really see a lot of Hispanic movement as much as I used to.”

    Also, as Andrade attributes his educational opportunity to minority outreach programs, he questions the strength of such programs in today’s system.

    “Back then they [gave] a lot more opportunities to minority students through equal opportunity,” Andrade said. “I don’t know how effective that program is now, because I understand it’s very hard to get into UCSD. When I got into UCSD back then, I was able to get in because of the programs available to minorities.”

    However, UCSD’s social and physical campus environment is not the only aspect to have been affected by the university’s growth over the past 50 years.

    Allan Havis, provost of Thurgood Marshall College and La Jolla resdient of 20 years, has seen how the university and its extensions, such as the La Jolla Playhouse, have fostered the town’s growing culture.

    “It’s clear that the university and the playhouse are at least half of what powers the city,” Havis said. “The Old Globe is partnered with UCSD, and there are smaller theaters, but the three major equity companies are in the lead and a lot of our faculty and graduates feed into the network.”

    As a playwright and professor, Havis has witnessed the absorbing of art from metropolises such as Los Angeles and New York, which he believes has made La Jolla what it is today.
    “The playhouse and the university have brought in a tremendous amount of enrichment from those areas [and] turned a navy retirement town into a much more cosmopolitan community,” Havis said.

    Also, Havis notices even minor points of culture that have been affected by the university’s influence on the surrounding areas.

    “The journalism in La Jolla has changed because of the performing- arts dynamics on campus,” Havis said, adding that there were “fewer coffeehouses and poetry readings.”

    However, in reminiscing about his own dynamic undergraduate experience in New York City, Havis would have preferred the campus to be located in an area more accessible to a local, active town.

    “To get out of the separateness of the campus, you’d have to walk a few miles to get to an actual village; if we had that kind of intersection there’d be a little more stimulation and cross-pollination of going to school and seeing people going to work at the same time,” he said. “But we can’t change the geography. We have to work with what we have.”

    Paul Churchland, professor of philosophy at UCSD and Valtz Philosophy Chair, has been a part of the university since 1984. For him, what stood out about UCSD’s development was the formation of the cognitive science department in the late ’90s.

    “Scholars of all departments and of different research interests got together,” Churchland said. “We formed an interdisciplinary community that still exists to this day. People at UCSD don’t appreciate how there’s a lot of interaction between the department boundaries.”

    Although Churchland remembers a period of recession, his memory of UCSD’s development is generally positive.

    “I remember back in the early ’90s when we had an economic turndown,” Churchland said. “We all had to agree to a 5-percent pay cut right across the board, everyone in the university. The building paused for a little bit until the budget turned around. But mostly its been growing, the number of students, I think. Also, the university’s ranking nationally slowly climbed, the quality of people that were here slowly improved as the university grew, and we weren’t in the top 25 when [my wife] and I first got here in ’80s. It flourished academically.”

    Overall, Churchland notes that UCSD’s effect on the surrounding community has been constructive.

    “I think the effect on northern San Diego has been profound. All the things you’d hope a university would do, we’ve been lucky enough to do,” he said. “This is one hell of a place to be.”

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