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Charles E. Young M.A. ’57, Ph.D. ’60

Posted On - May 28, 2015


Charles Young was formally inaugurated as chancellor of UCLA on May 23, 1969 – exactly 50 years after Governor William Stephens signed the legislation that created the southern branch of the University of California. On that 50th anniversary of the institution’s founding, Young declared that his goal was to move UCLA “from the second level of good universities to the first rank of excellent universities.” 25 years later, UCLA is in the elite company of the finest research universities in the United States, and, indeed, the world.

A political scientist by training, Chancellor Young had impressed the UC Regents during a longtime association with the University of California. After earning his bachelor’s degree at UC Riverside, where he was student body president, and his master’s and doctoral degrees at UCLA, he served on the political science faculties at UC Davis and UCLA. He spent a year on the staff of UC President Clark Kerr, participating in the creation of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, and returned to UCLA to hold a series of senior positions in the administration of Chancellor Franklin Murphy from 1960 to 1968.

Young’s qualifications for his post were even more impressive given another fact; at 36, the new chancellor was the youngest chief executive of any major American university. His first months in office were marked by the turbulence of student anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, ongoing grief over the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, controversy over Regents’ firing of UCLA philosophy instructor Angela Davis and other student protests. He led the campus through this tumultuous period with aplomb, and proceeded to guide UCLA’s rapid ascent to the premier level of academic distinction.

As the University’s funding sources shifted, Chancellor Young encouraged the search for private support and engineered the metamorphosis of a fledging philanthropy program into a broad-based, campus-wide development program. He launched an aggressive effort to recruit top notch faculty members to replace those who would soon retire from the College of Letters and Science and the professional schools. He oversaw the growth of the research program, resulting in an increase of contract and grant revenues from $45 million when he became chancellor to $325 million in 1993. He spearheaded highly successful efforts to enhance undergraduate education; to provide state-of-the-art facilities for teaching, research, cultural activities and recreation; and place UCLA at the forefront of professional training and public programming in the visual and performing arts.

With American universities at a crossroads and UCLA facing the most serious budget crisis in its history, Chancellor Young is ensuring the campus will meet these new challenges while securing its position among the most outstanding institutions of higher learning. After 25 years in office, he is now the senior chief executive by tenure of any major university in the United States. Recognized around the world for his distinguished leadership in higher education, Chancellor Young is an active contributor to numerous community, statewide, national and international organizations devoted to education and societal issues.