On the eve of its 150th anniversary, the University of California (UC) is one of the world’s premier academic institutions. This project will take a Big Data approach to exploring the history and role of the UC campuses in the state of California. The project will produce an unprecedented large-scale empirical examination of the university’s funding, students, professors, institutional structure, and the university’s impact on socioeconomic mobility and economic development. Data will include digitization of previously published financial and administrative statistics, student records, course catalogs, faculty hires and advancement, campus budget reports, and similar institutional records and documents.

The UC Cliometric History Project (UCCHP) has three central components, each characterized by a fundamental question relating UC to the broader California community and a novel dataset designed and constructed to rigorously answer that question:

I. Educational History. What is the value of University of California education for students, their local communities, and California in aggregate? We will collect a unique database of all students who have ever attended the University of California, including those students’ names and demographics, enrollment and graduation characteristics, and post-graduation outcomes.

II. Financial History. To what degree does UC’s public funding promote economic mobility through expanded educational access, and how have tightening budgets and increasing tuition levels affected student outcomes? We will assemble a complete corpus of public University of California budget records—including annual funding sources, inter- and intra-university allocations, and net and sticker tuition prices—as well as select admission and financial aid records for a subset of University of California students.

III. Institutional History. Does gender, ethnic, and field-of-study diversity among university faculty induce state-wide equality of opportunity? We will collect an annual database of professors and courses available at the University of California, documenting and analyzing the rise and fall of academic departments and changes in course offerings and descriptions.

The extraordinary scope and magnitude of this project are enabled by modern computational technology—allowing the digitization and statistical analysis of massive amounts of administrative data presently archived on paper records—and by extraordinary cooperation between a large number of offices within the university, many of which have already committed to full participation.

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