UCLA in the 2010s

In celebration of UCLA’s first 100 years, we’re traveling back in time to visit some of the people, places and moments in time that have had a lasting impression on who we are as a university.

As we celebrate UCLA’s first one hundred years, we look back over the years that have passed, for reflection and inspiration. In 1919, when UCLA opened its doors, Los Angeles was transforming from a city of orange groves and rolling hills into the international metropolis we know today. UCLA has grown in stride with the city, and those first students knew, as we know now, of the promise of their university, writing in their yearbook about UCLA, “In 10 years, or in 20, we shall look with amazement upon its development, for it is certain to be greater, far greater, than the imagination of any of us can foresee.”


In 2010, UCLA again turned towards the future with a determined spirit. As UCLA rebounded from the economic downturn of 2008, cuts to state and federal higher education budgets forced difficult choices, including student fee increases and faculty and staff furloughs. Undeterred, UCLA continued its unprecedented growth, maintaining the values of inclusion, innovation and service. As co-founder of UCLA Ernest Moore wrote in 1919, “We have developed a feeling of unity and of cordial co-operation, which have made our life together a very real community of endeavor. The school has drive and energy. It also has good will, kindliness and joy in plentiful measure.”
UCLA had grown to nearly 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 20,000 staff and faculty members, hundreds of degree programs and thousands of courses. In this decade, UCLA would cement its status as the No. 1 public university and most applied-to school in the nation, with applications exceeding 110,000. According to The Equality of Opportunity Project, UCLA ranks No. 1 among the nation’s top-tier universities for enrolling low- to middle-income students, and more of its graduates move up two or more income levels.
UCLA surpassed a record-breaking $1 billion in research grants and contracts. A 2018 report by Beacon Economics found UCLA was responsible for over $11 billion of economic impact in California, $4 billion in Los Angeles, and that start-ups built on UCLA technologies since 2000 totaled $33 billion.


However, even this decade of promise had its moments of tragedy, reconciliation and empowerment. UCLA experienced senseless violence in 2016, when William S. Klug, M.A. ’99, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was killed in a shooting in UCLA’s Engineering IV building. The campus was placed on lockdown while the SWAT team cleared buildings where students barricaded themselves inside classrooms. The young husband and father of two was conducting life-saving research on the mechanics of biological systems. The UCLA community mourned his loss as UCLA Chancellor Block remembered him, “He was intellectually curious, caring and patient, and he represented the very best of UCLA.”
In 2010, UCLA made an effort to right a past wrong, awarding honorary degrees to Japanese American students who were forced to leave UCLA and be interned under World War II’s Executive Order 9066. Tritia Toyota, M.A. ‘70, Ph.D. ’04, attended the event along with her uncle and former UCLA student, Shigeo Yuge. Assembly Member Warren Furutani, who wrote the legislative bill to confer degrees, said, “What we celebrate today…is not a stroll down the path to nostalgia. It’s a reality that lessons learned must be codified; lessons learned must be embraced. And if not, those problems and those mistakes will be made again.”

In 2018, in the wake of the gymnastics abuse scandal perpetuated by a Michigan State and Olympic doctor, two of the country’s premier women’s gymnastics programs, UCLA and the University of Oklahoma, jointly honored the women who spoke out against sexual abuse. Those honored at Pauley Pavilion included student-athletes and former UCLA student-athletes Jeanette Antolin, Jamie Dantzscher ’05 and Mattie Larson ’17, as well as Jordyn Wieber ’17, Olympic gold medalist and current UCLA volunteer assistant coach, and Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols. The event included the "Together We Rise" video tribute dedicated to the “incredible army of women who are using their voices to change the world.”
Several incidents sparked wider debates about diversity and inclusion on UCLA’s campus. In 2011, a political science major posted a hurtful and offensive video she titled, “Asians in the Library.” In 2013, Sy Stokes released "The Black Bruins," a spoken word video that went viral. Stokes critiqued the low enrollment of Black students at UCLA following Prop. 209, which abolished Affirmative Action in the state of California. In 2015, at an Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) meeting, council members questioned candidate Rachel Beyda’s ability to be impartial in light of her Jewish identity. While she was ultimately approved, the questioning exposed an anti-Semitic bias.
While these types of incidents can unfortunately be found on college campuses across America, UCLA worked to find a meaningful way to address the issues. In 2015, UCLA created the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), led by Jerry Kang, a scholar on implicit bias and the law. The EDI's mission was to “Build an equal learning, working and living environment,” or more simply “Build equity for all.” UCLA also began reviewing applications within the context of the personal challenges students faced and added a diversity requirement, met through a variety of courses in a range of disciplines, to prepare students for life in a multicultural world.
Likewise, Alumni Affairs created Diversity Programs and Initiatives, offering support for its various diversity alumni networks and fostering connections among Bruins of diverse experiences across generations. In 2016, the UC Regents approved the "Principles Against Intolerance," disavowing hatred and other intolerant conduct and promoting “an environment in which all are included, all are given an equal opportunity to learn and explore, in which differences as well as commonalities are celebrated, and in which dissenting viewpoints are not only tolerated but encouraged.”
In 2012, President Barack Obama stopped deporting undocumented immigrants who matched DREAM Act criteria. In support, California passed Bills 130 and 131, allowing undocumented students who qualified for in-state tuition to qualify for financial aid. The Trump administration rescinded this program in 2017, part of their push to eliminate DACA protections. That same year, the Undocumented Alumni Association of UCLA was started by alumni interested in supporting and advocating for the undocumented community at UCLA.
In 2019, the UCLA campus was rocked by the college admissions scandal when a nationwide investigation into bribes and cheating, nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, resulted in conspiracy charges against 53 people. Several arrests were made, including former UCLA Men’s Soccer Coach Jorge Salcedo, who was indicted on a racketeering charge for allegedly accepting money to guarantee students' admissions regardless of their athletic background.
UCLA launched an internal investigation and the UC’s Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services began an audit of admissions practices. They later announced process and policy changes, including “clearer documentation, improved verification protocols and stronger procedures” which UCLA began implementing.


The campus also faced natural and accidental disasters beyond its control. UCLA’s picturesque hillside location makes it yet vulnerable to destructive wildfires. For three consecutive years, the 2017 Skirball fire, the 2018 deadly Woolsey fire and the 2019 Getty fire destroyed hundreds of structures near Los Angeles, including a building at the UCLA La Kretz Center Field Station for conservation research. While campus was not immediately threatened, nervous residents were on standby as classes and outdoor activities were cancelled due to poor air quality.
In 2014, 20 million gallons of water gushed onto campus from a burst pipe under Sunset Boulevard. Water streamed into north and central campus on a Tuesday afternoon in late July, flowing for several hours before it was contained. Luckily no one was injured, but motorists were rescued from parking garages and nearly one thousand vehicles belonging to UCLA students, faculty and staff members were stranded or damaged. Several buildings also suffered substantial damage, including the newly remodeled Nell and John Wooden Court in Pauley Pavilion, which was under 10 inches of water. Home to UCLA basketball, volleyball and gymnastics teams, UCLA was able to replace the entire wood floor with a new state-of-the-art court before the first game in October.


In 2010, about seven million people used the UCLA library each year. Despite budget cuts, the library acquired its nine millionth volume, a 6th century Italian epic poem with 75 cantos and 26,000 lines. Considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance, "Orlando Furioso" tells the heroic story of four knights, a wizard and a magic horse and is housed in the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Early Italian Printing. Another bright spot was the success of the Library’s Collecting Los Angeles initiative. In its first full year, the initiative persuaded collectors that the UCLA Library would offer the perfect home for their unique materials that tell the history of Los Angeles.


In 2011, Meyer ’49 and Renee ’53 Luskin’s $100 million gift was the second largest ever to UCLA. Half was dedicated to programs at the School of Public Affairs, renamed in their honor, including the Meyer and Renee Luskin Lecture Series on topics relevant to the betterment of society. Under Dean Gary Segura, the School began a period of expansion guided by a plan to serve issues important to Los Angeles — including social justice, equity and leadership. The School opened academic research centers, including the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative and the California Policy Lab, and launched a public affairs major in 2018, now with more than 250 students.


Laying claim to the birthplace of the Internet and discovery of the first case of AIDS, UCLA has stayed in the forefront of technological innovation and cutting-edge research.
In 2017-18, UCLA students ventured into outer space with the launches of the twin space weather nanosatellites ELFIN-STAR and ELFIN, the first satellite missions designed, built and operated at UCLA, primarily by undergraduates. Electron Losses and Fields Investigation (ELFIN), have provided breakthroughs in our understanding of the loss of relativistic electrons in radiation belts.
Dennis Hong, founding director of RoMeLa, the UCLA Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, says they make "technology that will help society and make people happy." He and a team of UCLA engineering students travelled to China to compete in the RoboCup soccer competition where their robot, THOR, won the adult-size humanoid category in 2015. Hong’s research is focused on robot locomotion, autonomous vehicles and humanoid robots. In 2013, UCLA’s first ever LA Hacks encouraged innovation and collaboration. The event, based on an idea by UCLA students, is now the largest hackathon in Southern California. Hackers annually come together in Pauley Pavilion to push the boundaries of technology by finding innovative solutions to modern problems, while competing for cash and gift prizes. However, according to its founder, Hadar Dor ’14, “ninety-nine percent of the reason for joining a hackathon is to make new friends.”
The glass and brick Geffen Hall, home to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, opened in 2015, bringing together students with cutting-edge research. The building’s namesake, entertainment executive and philanthropist David Geffen established an unprecedented $100 million scholarship fund in 2012 to cover the entire cost of education for the very best medical students attending the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM). Geffen is the largest individual donor to UCLA, and to any UC campus. His philanthropic support exceeding $300 million has transformed countless lives.
Cancer treatment took a leap forward when a research team, led by physician Charles Sawyers and chemist Michael Jung, designed and synthesized a new type of molecularly-targeted cancer drug, sold under the brand name Xtandi. Royalty Pharma acquired the rights for $1.14 billion; proceeds will fund research and scholarships and will be shared with the inventors. UCLA is a leader in converting research discoveries into practical applications and the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research manages nearly 4,000 inventions and patents.
UCLA alumnus Randy W. Schekman ’71 discovered how protein is secreted and carried in the human body, winning the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2013. Schekman’s work paved the way for future discoveries that could be key to solving neurological diseases, diabetes and immunological disorders. Schekman realized his love for scientific research at UCLA, setting him on the path to cutting-edge discoveries. He said, ”To succeed in science at any level, you have to have internal mechanisms to overcome the constant failure … When the rare success occurs, you can taste why you've invested all the time.”
In 2013, people around the world tuned in as UCLA live-tweeted brain surgery in a series of six-second videos. When actor and musician Brad Carter developed a neurological disorder causing his hands to shake uncontrollably, he turned to Nader Pouratian, director of UCLA's Neurosurgical Movement Disorders Program. Dr. Pouratian implanted a brain pacemaker on an awake Carter who strummed his guitar through the procedure. Later that year, Carter returned to campus to share his experience.
The UCLA campus went tobacco-free under the leadership of Dr. Linda Sarna, dean of the UCLA School of Nursing, in 2013, improving campus-wide health and well-being. In 2016, the School made a commitment to fostering and supporting an inclusive climate with its first associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Deborah Koniak-Griffin. The School later endowed a faculty chair in developmental disability studies thanks to a gift of $2 million from the Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation in 2018. That year, the School also introduced a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program to prepare nurses with necessary skills to become leaders in their field.


With the largest UC population on the smallest amount of land, new buildings were added and old ones modernized, using innovative techniques that balanced open space with the need for more room. All campus construction was done with collaboration and sustainability in mind.
The UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center opened in 2016 and features 254 guest rooms for overnight accommodations, a restaurant and world-class amenities. The building was designed to be environmentally sustainable in every conceivable way, including LED lighting, occupancy sensors and insulated windows that minimize heat and maximize light..
UCLA continued the housing expansion it started with the 1984 Olympics, adding features to reduce energy and water consumption on the Hill. UCLA built Holly Ridge, Gardenia Way and the popular Sproul Cove and Sproul Landing. It renovated Hitch, which earned LEED Platinum Certification, and Saxon, cantilevered over a former canyon, creating an outdoor movie screen. The community includes Bruin Plate, a four-star certified green restaurant with locally sourced food. Carnesale Commons was named in honor of UCLA's eighth chief executive and his wife. This corner of campus will again become the Athlete’s Village when Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympics.
In 2018, hundreds of alumni and friends attended the dedication of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s newest building, Engineering VI, devoted to microelectronics and nanotechnology. The Biological Sciences Department also moved to a new home in the new $129-million UCLA Terasaki Life Sciences Building.


In the 2010s, UCLA’s decorated athletic teams continued to shine, winning more than a dozen NCAA championships, 118 in all. Women’s beach volleyball and soccer teams won their first championship as did the men's baseball team. In a landmark signing, UCLA and Under Armour agreed to the largest apparel deal in the history of the NCAA, a record $280 million over 15 years. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero ’74 said, "UCLA has always been about challenging the status quo and breaking through barriers; Under Armour shares those core values...they constantly pursue innovation in order to make athletes better."
UCLA sports facilities were modernized and expanded in the 2010s, as alumni played a part in creating opportunities for the next generation of athletes. Just prior to the campus flood of 2014, Pauley Pavilion had undergone $136 million modernization of its narrow concourses and lack of amenities. The update retained the building's charm while adding a glass exterior, widened concourses, new seats and more restrooms. It reopened in October 2012, just in time for homecoming. Pauley has held NCAA championships, award shows, concerts and a presidential debate.
Inside Pauley, Coach Wooden’s seat in the stands — Section 103B, Row 2, Seat 1 — has stayed empty since 2010, when he passed away at age 99, having built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports. Fans and friends paid tribute in a memorial, and in 2012, UCLA unveiled a statue in his honor. President Barack Obama saluted the legendary coach, praising "the way he achieved all that success — with modesty, and humility and by wholeheartedly dedicating his life to the betterment of others. He never stopped preparing his players, and everyone he met, to be their best."
UCLA Basketball now has a dedicated practice and training facility. The Mo Ostin Basketball Center opened in 2017, with a generous gift from music industry executive and philanthropist, Mo Ostin ‘51. Other notable alumni helped make the space a reality, including Kevin Love and Russell and Nina ‘10 Westbrook, who said, "I loved my time at UCLA … I am truly honored to be part of the legacy that is Bruin basketball.” Professional NBA players often join the Bruins for off-season pickup games.
The Betsy and Rafer Johnson Track at Drake Stadium was named in 2019 for UCLA track and field legend and humanitarian, Rafer Johnson ’59 and his wife, Betsy. The new blue track features a Mondo surface, just like the one used in the 2012 London Olympics.
As part of the university’s sustainability efforts, UCLA replaced the sod on the eight-acre Intramural Athletic Field (IM Field) with AstroTurf, made with soy-based backing. The change saved 6.5 million gallons of water each year.
The Wasserman Football Center transformed a walkway into the new home of UCLA Football, which opens onto the Spaulding practice field. Named in recognition of support from Casey Wasserman ‘96, president and CEO of the Wasserman Foundation, who said, “To be able to bring young student-athletes to this university, expose them to this university through their skill and their passion … their success in life will not necessarily come from being athletes; it will come from being Bruins.”


Art and music have been an integral part of UCLA since its beginnings in 1919, when it had an art gallery and music department. In 2016, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music was established as UCLA’s 12th professional school with a generous $30 million gift from the Grammy-winning musician and recording industry leader. The first independent school of music in the UC system, the school’s balance of scholarship and practice honors all musical traditions. Its founding dean, Dr. Judith Smith, said she hoped “to foster an environment that will offer our students unparalleled academic opportunities and to bring our innovative programs the national and international recognition they deserve."
The UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television mourned the passing of award-winning director and its founding dean, Gil Cates, and began several initiatives to focus on important issues in entertainment, including the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment to inspire social change through entertainment and a $20 million gift from the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts to propel diversity and ethics. In 2016, the School looked forward when Francis Ford Coppola, M.F.A. ’67, visited UCLA to experiment with live cinema in his film “Distant Visions.” In 2018, Paula Vogel was named TFT’s inaugural Hearst Distinguished Playwright-in-Residence. Teri Schwartz, dean of TFT said, “Paula’s works explore and illuminate the deepest aspects of our human condition.”


UCLA also expanded off campus in collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District on a second community school. South Los Angeles’ Horace Mann UCLA Community School was founded to foster a college-going culture in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. At RFK Learning Center, UCLA’s first community school, professor and artist Judith Baca unveiled a mural commemorating the late Robert F. Kennedy’s work for justice, compassion and equality.
In 2013, UCLA launched the Grand Challenge Initiative to tackle some of society’s most pressing issues through progressive thinking. These ambitious research projects connect faculty, students, community members and experts in a common goal. The Grand Challenges are collaborative efforts that are expected to deliver real benefit to Californians and the world. The first Grand Challenge, Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles, aims to transition Los Angeles County to 100% renewable energy and 100% locally sourced water by 2050, while enhancing the ecosystem and human health. The Depression Grand Challenge seeks to understand, prevent and treat the world’s greatest health problem. Depression affects all generations, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic circumstances and is the strongest risk factor for suicide.
In 2018, UCLA Alumni celebrated its 500,000 members with the first-ever Alumni Day Online, which made the festivities accessible, inclusive and — looking back — ahead of their time. The alumni community chatted and networked, took Bruin quizzes and virtual tours, and enjoyed art, entertainment and music together. In many ways, the day stands as a model of what is possible, as the University faces today’s new and unique challenges.
On May 18, 2019, UCLA launched the Centennial Celebration, with an on-campus Alumni Day and a spectacular projection show on the façade of Royce Hall. It marked the success of its first 100 years, recognizing the founders, students, faculty, staff, families and a global community of Bruins who continue to make UCLA the home of excellence. UCLA’s historic Centennial Campaign that began in 2014 raised a landmark $5.49 billion. Chancellor Block said, “The Centennial Campaign for UCLA has exceeded its goals and engaged students, faculty, friends and leaders in setting up the University for an even more remarkable second century.” The campaign supports a broad array of priorities, including student scholarships, faculty research and programs that enrich communities in Los Angeles and beyond.


In 1920, as UCLA’s first class of students looked ahead, their role was clear: to build something that benefitted future generations, “In after years these pioneers may say with pride that they were the foundation upon which the spirit and traditions of a great university were founded. Whatever great victories and fame the future may hold, those who have aided in overcoming the difficulties of the past year may say with pride that they were the first.” As UCLA begins a second century, the university looks forward again — with more to discover, more to achieve and more challenges to overcome in its mission to make the world a better place through research, education and service.