From The University of California-Davis: “On Icy Enceladus, Expansion Cracks Let Inner Ocean Boil Out”

UC Davis bloc

From The University of California-Davis

March 23, 2022

Max Rudolph
Earth and Planetary Sciences
The University of California-Davis

Andy Fell
News and Media Relations
The University of California-Davis

Written by by Liza Lester

Saturn’s tiny, frozen moon Enceladus is slashed by four straight, parallel fissures or “tiger stripes” from which water erupts. These features are unlike anything else in the solar system. Researchers now have an explanation for them. Credit: JPL/Caltech-NASA/Space Science Institute – Boulder Colorado)

In 2006, the Cassini spacecraft recorded geyser curtains shooting forth from “tiger stripe” fissures near the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus — sometimes as much as 200 kilograms of water per second.

A new study [Geophysical Research Letters] suggests how expanding ice during millennia-long cooling cycles could sometimes crack the moon’s icy shell and let its inner ocean out, providing a possible explanation for the geysers.

Enceladus has a diameter of about 504 kilometers (313 miles) — roughly the length of the United Kingdom at its longest point. The moon is covered in ice 20-30 kilometers (12.4-18.6 miles) thick, and the surface temperature is about -201 Celsius (-330 Fahrenheit), but a decade of data from NASA’s Cassini–Huygens mission supplied evidence for a deep liquid ocean inside the icy shell, escaping into space through continuous “cryo-volcanism”. How such a small, cold world can sustain so much geological activity has been an enduring scientific puzzle.

“It captivated both the scientists’ and the general public’s attention,” said Max Rudolph, an assistant professor in geophysics at the University of California, Davis, and lead author of the new study.

Rudolph and his colleagues ran a physics-based model to map the conditions that could allow the cracks from the surface to reach the ocean and cause the eruptions. The model accounts for cycles of warming and cooling that last on the scale of a hundred million years, associated with changes in Enceladus’ orbit around Saturn. During each cycle, the ice shell undergoes a period of thinning and a period of thickening. The thickening happens through freezing at the base of the ice shell, which grows downward like the ice on a lake, Rudolph said.

Pressure rising

The pressure exerted by this downward-expanding ice on the ocean below is one possible mechanism researchers have proposed to explain Enceladus’ geysers. As the outer ice shell cools and thickens, pressure increases on the ocean underneath because ice has more volume than water. The increasing pressure also generates stress in the ice, which could become pathways for fluid to reach the surface 20-30 kilometers away.

The new study found the ocean pressure would likely be enough to make the tiger stripe cracks seen on the surface of Enceladus. But the pressure would never be large enough to squeeze water up to the surface, when both ocean pressurization and thermal contraction are taken into consideration, they found, ruling this proposed explanation for the geyser out.

“I find interesting that the proposed model could explain the formation of an initial crack that could have led to formation of multiple cracks (tiger stripes) at the south pole of Enceladus,” said Miki Nakajima, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester who was not involved in Rudolph’s study. She calls Rudolph’s team’s proposal “noble and promising.”

Rudolph said a mechanism first proposed by Nakajima and Andrew Ingersoll in a 2016 study can explain the eruptions. These researchers proposed water that gets into these cracks is exposed to space — Enceladus lacks an atmosphere — and spontaneously boils when it hits the vacuum.

Rudolph said this is consistent with the appearance of the surface of Enceladus, which doesn’t show any evidence of cryo-lava flows leaking from the cracks on the surface.

Meanwhile, some evidence shows that Jupiter’s moon Europa, another icy world about the size of Earth’s own moon, may also have similar eruptions, though less is known about the activity going on there.

But this mechanism of ocean pressure and spontaneous eruption can’t explain the cryo-volcanism that may be happening on Europa, Rudolph said. Further research and observation on that moon is needed to determine the potential causes of those eruptions. Rudolph looks forward to the Europa Clipper mission, for which the spacecraft is currently being assembled by NASA to learn more about the geological processes on Europa.

Additional authors on the paper are: Michael Manga, The University of California-Berkeley; Matthew Walker, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson; and Alyssa Rhoden, The Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. The work was supported by NASA.

See the full article here .


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UC Davis Campus

The University of California-Davis is a public land-grant research university near Davis, California. Named a Public Ivy, it is the northernmost of the ten campuses of The University of California system. The institution was first founded as an agricultural branch of the system in 1905 and became the seventh campus of the University of California in 1959.

The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The University of California-Davis faculty includes 23 members of The National Academy of Sciences, 30 members of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 17 members of the American Law Institute, 14 members of the Institute of Medicine, and 14 members of the National Academy of Engineering. Among other honors that university faculty, alumni, and researchers have won are two Nobel Prizes, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, three Pulitzer Prizes, three MacArthur Fellowships, and a National Medal of Science.

Founded as a primarily agricultural campus, the university has expanded over the past century to include graduate and professional programs in medicine (which includes the University of California-Davis Medical Center), law, veterinary medicine, education, nursing, and business management, in addition to 90 research programs offered by University of California-Davis Graduate Studies. The University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is the largest veterinary school in the United States and has been ranked first in the world for five consecutive years (2015–19). University of California-Davis also offers certificates and courses, including online classes, for adults and non-traditional learners through its Division of Continuing and Professional Education.

The UC Davis Aggies athletic teams compete in NCAA Division I, primarily as members of the Big West Conference with additional sports in the Big Sky Conference (football only) and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

Seventh UC campus

In 1959, the campus was designated by the Regents of the University of California as the seventh general campus in the University of California system.

University of California-Davis’s Graduate Division was established in 1961, followed by the creation of the College of Engineering in 1962. The law school opened for classes in fall 1966, and the School of Medicine began instruction in fall 1968. In a period of increasing activism, a Native American studies program was started in 1969, one of the first at a major university; it was later developed into a full department within the university.

Graduate Studies

The University of California-Davis Graduate Programs of Study consist of over 90 post-graduate programs, offering masters and doctoral degrees and post-doctoral courses. The programs educate over 4,000 students from around the world.

UC Davis has the following graduate and professional schools, the most in the entire University of California system:

UC Davis Graduate Studies
Graduate School of Management
School of Education
School of Law
School of Medicine
School of Veterinary Medicine
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing


University of California-Davis is one of 62 members in The Association of American Universities, an organization of leading research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education.

Research centers and laboratories

The campus supports a number of research centers and laboratories including:

Advanced Highway Maintenance Construction Technology Research Laboratory
BGI at UC Davis Joint Genome Center (in planning process)
Bodega Marine Reserve
C-STEM Center
CalEPR Center
California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System
California International Law Center
California National Primate Research Center
California Raptor Center
Center for Health and the Environment
Center for Mind and Brain
Center for Poverty Research
Center for Regional Change
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
Center for Visual Sciences
Contained Research Facility
Crocker Nuclear Laboratory
Davis Millimeter Wave Research Center (A joint effort of Agilent Technologies Inc. and UC Davis) (in planning process)
Information Center for the Environment
John Muir Institute of the Environment (the largest research unit at UC Davis, spanning all Colleges and Professional Schools)
McLaughlin Natural Reserve
MIND Institute
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center
Quail Ridge Reserve
Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve
Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) (a collaborative effort with Sierra Nevada University)
UC Center Sacramento
UC Davis Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility
University of California Pavement Research Center
University of California Solar Energy Center (UC Solar)
Energy Efficiency Center (the very first university run energy efficiency center in the Nation).
Western Institute for Food Safety and Security

The Crocker Nuclear Laboratory on campus has had a nuclear accelerator since 1966. The laboratory is used by scientists and engineers from private industry, universities and government to research topics including nuclear physics, applied solid state physics, radiation effects, air quality, planetary geology and cosmogenics. University of California-Davis is the only University of California campus, besides The University of California-Berkeley, that has a nuclear laboratory.

Agilent Technologies will also work with the university in establishing a Davis Millimeter Wave Research Center to conduct research into millimeter wave and THz systems.

The University of California

The University of California is a public land-grant research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz, along with numerous research centers and academic abroad centers. The system is the state’s land-grant university.

The University of California was founded on March 23, 1868, and operated in Oakland before moving to Berkeley in 1873. Over time, several branch locations and satellite programs were established. In March 1951, the University of California began to reorganize itself into something distinct from its campus in Berkeley, with University of California President Robert Gordon Sproul staying in place as chief executive of the University of California system, while Clark Kerr became the first chancellor of The University of California-Berkeley and Raymond B. Allen became the first chancellor of The University of California-Los Angeles. However, the 1951 reorganization was stalled by resistance from Sproul and his allies, and it was not until Kerr succeeded Sproul as University of California President that University of California was able to evolve into a university system from 1957 to 1960. At that time, chancellors were appointed for additional campuses and each was granted some degree of greater autonomy.

The University of California currently has 10 campuses, a combined student body of 285,862 students, 24,400 faculty members, 143,200 staff members and over 2.0 million living alumni. Its newest campus in Merced opened in fall 2005. Nine campuses enroll both undergraduate and graduate students; one campus, The University of California-San Francisco, enrolls only graduate and professional students in the medical and health sciences. In addition, the University of California Hastings College of the Law, located in San Francisco, is legally affiliated with University of California, but other than sharing its name is entirely autonomous from the rest of the system. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state’s three-system public higher education plan, which also includes the California State University system and the California Community Colleges system. University of California is governed by a Board of Regents whose autonomy from the rest of the state government is protected by the state constitution. The University of California also manages or co-manages three national laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy: The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , The DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory , and The Doe’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Collectively, the colleges, institutions, and alumni of the University of California make it the most comprehensive and advanced post-secondary educational system in the world, responsible for nearly $50 billion per year of economic impact. Major publications generally rank most University of California campuses as being among the best universities in the world. Eight of the campuses, Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Riverside, are considered Public Ivies, making California the state with the most universities in the nation to hold the title. University of California campuses have large numbers of distinguished faculty in almost every academic discipline, with University of California faculty and researchers having won 71 Nobel Prizes as of 2021.

In 1849, the state of California ratified its first constitution, which contained the express objective of creating a complete educational system including a state university. Taking advantage of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, the California State Legislature established an Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College in 1866. However, it existed only on paper, as a placeholder to secure federal land-grant funds.

Meanwhile, Congregational minister Henry Durant, an alumnus of Yale University, had established the private Contra Costa Academy, on June 20, 1853, in Oakland, California. The initial site was bounded by Twelfth and Fourteenth Streets and Harrison and Franklin Streets in downtown Oakland (and is marked today by State Historical Plaque No. 45 at the northeast corner of Thirteenth and Franklin). In turn, the academy’s trustees were granted a charter in 1855 for a College of California, though the college continued to operate as a college preparatory school until it added college-level courses in 1860. The college’s trustees, educators, and supporters believed in the importance of a liberal arts education (especially the study of the Greek and Roman classics), but ran into a lack of interest in liberal arts colleges on the American frontier (as a true college, the college was graduating only three or four students per year).

In November 1857, the college’s trustees began to acquire various parcels of land facing the Golden Gate in what is now Berkeley for a future planned campus outside of Oakland. But first, they needed to secure the college’s water rights by buying a large farm to the east. In 1864, they organized the College Homestead Association, which borrowed $35,000 to purchase the land, plus another $33,000 to purchase 160 acres (650,000 m^2) of land to the south of the future campus. The Association subdivided the latter parcel and started selling lots with the hope it could raise enough money to repay its lenders and also create a new college town. But sales of new homesteads fell short.

Governor Frederick Low favored the establishment of a state university based upon The University of Michigan plan, and thus in one sense may be regarded as the founder of the University of California. At the College of California’s 1867 commencement exercises, where Low was present, Benjamin Silliman Jr. criticized Californians for creating a state polytechnic school instead of a real university. That same day, Low reportedly first suggested a merger of the already-functional College of California (which had land, buildings, faculty, and students, but not enough money) with the nonfunctional state college (which had money and nothing else), and went on to participate in the ensuing negotiations. On October 9, 1867, the college’s trustees reluctantly agreed to join forces with the state college to their mutual advantage, but under one condition—that there not be simply an “Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College”, but a complete university, within which the assets of the College of California would be used to create a College of Letters (now known as the College of Letters and Science). Accordingly, the Organic Act, establishing the University of California, was introduced as a bill by Assemblyman John W. Dwinelle on March 5, 1868, and after it was duly passed by both houses of the state legislature, it was signed into state law by Governor Henry H. Haight (Low’s successor) on March 23, 1868. However, as legally constituted, the new university was not an actual merger of the two colleges, but was an entirely new institution which merely inherited certain objectives and assets from each of them. The University of California’s second president, Daniel Coit Gilman, opened its new campus in Berkeley in September 1873.

Section 8 of the Organic Act authorized the Board of Regents to affiliate the University of California with independent self-sustaining professional colleges. “Affiliation” meant University of California and its affiliates would “share the risk in launching new endeavors in education.” The affiliates shared the prestige of the state university’s brand, and University of California agreed to award degrees in its own name to their graduates on the recommendation of their respective faculties, but the affiliates were otherwise managed independently by their own boards of trustees, charged their own tuition and fees, and maintained their own budgets separate from the University of California budget. It was through the process of affiliation that University of California was able to claim it had medical and law schools in San Francisco within a decade of its founding.

In 1879, California adopted its second and current constitution, which included unusually strong language to ensure University of California’s independence from the rest of the state government. This had lasting consequences for the Hastings College of the Law, which had been separately chartered and affiliated in 1878 by an act of the state legislature at the behest of founder Serranus Clinton Hastings. After a falling out with his own handpicked board of directors, the founder persuaded the state legislature in 1883 and 1885 to pass new laws to place his law school under the direct control of the Board of Regents. In 1886, the Supreme Court of California declared those newer acts to be unconstitutional because the clause protecting University of California’s independence in the 1879 state constitution had stripped the state legislature of the ability to amend the 1878 act. To this day, the Hastings College of the Law remains an affiliate of University of California, maintains its own board of directors, and is not governed by the Regents.

In contrast, Toland Medical College (founded in 1864 and affiliated in 1873) and later, the dental, pharmacy, and nursing schools in SF were affiliated with University of California through written agreements, and not statutes invested with constitutional importance by court decisions. In the early 20th century, the Affiliated Colleges (as they came to be called) began to agree to submit to the Regents’ governance during the term of President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, as the Board of Regents had come to recognize the problems inherent in the existence of independent entities that shared the University of California brand but over which University of California had no real control. While Hastings remained independent, the Affiliated Colleges were able to increasingly coordinate their operations with one another under the supervision of the University of California President and Regents, and evolved into the health sciences campus known today as the University of California-San Francisco.

In August 1882, the California State Normal School (whose original normal school in San Jose is now San Jose State University) opened a second school in Los Angeles to train teachers for the growing population of Southern California. In 1887, the Los Angeles school was granted its own board of trustees independent of the San Jose school, and in 1919, the state legislature transferred it to University of California control and renamed it the Southern Branch of the University of California. In 1927, it became The University of California-Los Angeles; the “at” would be replaced with a comma in 1958.

Los Angeles surpassed San Francisco in the 1920 census to become the most populous metropolis in California. Because Los Angeles had become the state government’s single largest source of both tax revenue and votes, its residents felt entitled to demand more prestige and autonomy for their campus. Their efforts bore fruit in March 1951, when UCLA became the first University of California site outside of Berkeley to achieve de jure coequal status with the Berkeley campus. That month, the Regents approved a reorganization plan under which both the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses would be supervised by chancellors reporting to the University of California President. However, the 1951 plan was severely flawed; it was overly vague about how the chancellors were to become the “executive heads” of their campuses. Due to stubborn resistance from President Sproul and several vice presidents and deans—who simply carried on as before—the chancellors ended up as glorified provosts with limited control over academic affairs and long-range planning while the President and the Regents retained de facto control over everything else.

Upon becoming president in October 1957, Clark Kerr supervised University of California’s rapid transformation into a true public university system through a series of proposals adopted unanimously by the Regents from 1957 to 1960. Kerr’s reforms included expressly granting all campus chancellors the full range of executive powers, privileges, and responsibilities which Sproul had denied to Kerr himself, as well as the radical decentralization of a tightly knit bureaucracy in which all lines of authority had always run directly to the President at Berkeley or to the Regents themselves. In 1965, UCLA Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy tried to push this to what he saw as its logical conclusion: he advocated for authorizing all chancellors to report directly to the Board of Regents, thereby rendering the University of California President redundant. Murphy wanted to transform University of California from one federated university into a confederation of independent universities, similar to the situation in Kansas (from where he was recruited). Murphy was unable to develop any support for his proposal, Kerr quickly put down what he thought of as “Murphy’s rebellion”, and therefore Kerr’s vision of University of California as a university system prevailed: “one university with pluralistic decision-making”.

During the 20th century, University of California acquired additional satellite locations which, like Los Angeles, were all subordinate to administrators at the Berkeley campus. California farmers lobbied for University of California to perform applied research responsive to their immediate needs; in 1905, the Legislature established a “University Farm School” at Davis and in 1907 a “Citrus Experiment Station” at Riverside as adjuncts to the College of Agriculture at Berkeley. In 1912, University of California acquired a private oceanography laboratory in San Diego, which had been founded nine years earlier by local business promoters working with a Berkeley professor. In 1944, University of California acquired Santa Barbara State College from the California State Colleges, the descendants of the State Normal Schools. In 1958, the Regents began promoting these locations to general campuses, thereby creating The University of California-Santa Barbara (1958), The University of California-Davis (1959), The University of California-Riverside (1959), The University of California-San Diego (1960), and The University of California-San Francisco (1964). Each campus was also granted the right to have its own chancellor upon promotion. In response to California’s continued population growth, University of California opened two additional general campuses in 1965, with The University of California-Irvine opening in Irvine and The University of California-Santa Cruz opening in Santa Cruz. The youngest campus, The University of California-Merced opened in fall 2005 to serve the San Joaquin Valley.

After losing campuses in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to the University of California system, supporters of the California State College system arranged for the state constitution to be amended in 1946 to prevent similar losses from happening again in the future.

The California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 established that University of California must admit undergraduates from the top 12.5% (one-eighth) of graduating high school seniors in California. Prior to the promulgation of the Master Plan, University of California was to admit undergraduates from the top 15%. University of California does not currently adhere to all tenets of the original Master Plan, such as the directives that no campus was to exceed total enrollment of 27,500 students (in order to ensure quality) and that public higher education should be tuition-free for California residents. Five campuses, Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, and San Diego each have current total enrollment at over 30,000.

After the state electorate severely limited long-term property tax revenue by enacting Proposition 13 in 1978, University of California was forced to make up for the resulting collapse in state financial support by imposing a variety of fees which were tuition in all but name. On November 18, 2010, the Regents finally gave up on the longstanding legal fiction that University of California does not charge tuition by renaming the Educational Fee to “Tuition.” As part of its search for funds during the 2000s and 2010s, University of California quietly began to admit higher percentages of highly accomplished (and more lucrative) students from other states and countries, but was forced to reverse course in 2015 in response to the inevitable public outcry and start admitting more California residents.

As of 2019, University of California controls over 12,658 active patents. University of California researchers and faculty were responsible for 1,825 new inventions that same year. On average, University of California researchers create five new inventions per day.

Seven of University of California’s ten campuses (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz) are members of the Association of American Universities, an alliance of elite American research universities founded in 1900 at University of California’s suggestion. Collectively, the system counts among its faculty (as of 2002):

389 members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences
5 Fields Medal recipients
19 Fulbright Scholars
25 MacArthur Fellows
254 members of the National Academy of Sciences
91 members of the National Academy of Engineering
13 National Medal of Science Laureates
61 Nobel laureates.
106 members of the Institute of Medicine

Davis, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Santa Barbara all followed Berkeley’s example by aggregating the majority of arts, humanities, and science departments into a relatively large College of Letters and Science. Therefore, at Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, their respective College of Letters and Science is by far the single largest academic unit on each campus. The College of Letters and Science at Los Angeles is the largest academic unit in the entire University of California system.

Finally, Irvine is organized into 13 schools and San Francisco is organized into four schools, all of which are relatively narrow in scope.

In 2006 the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition awarded the University of California the SPARC Innovator Award for its “extraordinarily effective institution-wide vision and efforts to move scholarly communication forward”, including the 1997 founding (under then University of California President Richard C. Atkinson) of the California Digital Library (CDL) and its 2002 launching of CDL’s eScholarship, an institutional repository. The award also specifically cited the widely influential 2005 academic journal publishing reform efforts of University of California faculty and librarians in “altering the marketplace” by publicly negotiating contracts with publishers, as well as their 2006 proposal to amend University of California’s copyright policy to allow open access to University of California faculty research. On July 24, 2013, the University of California Academic Senate adopted an Open Access Policy, mandating that all University of California faculty produced research with a publication agreement signed after that date be first deposited in University of California’s eScholarship open access repository.

University of California system-wide research on the SAT exam found that, after controlling for familial income and parental education, so-called achievement tests known as the SAT II had 10 times more predictive ability of college aptitude than the SAT I.

All University of California campuses except Hastings College of the Law are governed by the Regents of the University of California as required by the Constitution of the State of California. Eighteen regents are appointed by the governor for 12-year terms. One member is a student appointed for a one-year term. There are also seven ex officio members—the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the State Assembly, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, president and vice president of the alumni associations of University of California, and the University of California president. The Academic Senate, made up of faculty members, is empowered by the regents to set academic policies. In addition, the system-wide faculty chair and vice-chair sit on the Board of Regents as non-voting members.

Originally, the president was the chief executive of the first campus, Berkeley. In turn, other University of California locations (with the exception of Hastings College of the Law) were treated as off-site departments of the Berkeley campus, and were headed by provosts who were subordinate to the president. In March 1951, the regents reorganized the university’s governing structure. Starting with the 1952–53 academic year, day-to-day “chief executive officer” functions for the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses were transferred to chancellors who were vested with a high degree of autonomy, and reported as equals to University of California’s president. As noted above, the regents promoted five additional University of California locations to campuses and allowed them to have chancellors of their own in a series of decisions from 1958 to 1964, and the three campuses added since then have also been run by chancellors. In turn, all chancellors (again, with the exception of Hastings) report as equals to the University of California President. Today, the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and the Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents of the University of California share an office building in downtown Oakland that serves as the University of California system’s headquarters.

Kerr’s vision for University of California governance was “one university with pluralistic decision-making.” In other words, the internal delegation of operational authority to chancellors at the campus level and allowing nine other campuses to become separate centers of academic life independent of Berkeley did not change the fact that all campuses remain part of one legal entity. As a 1968 University of California centennial coffee table book explained: “Yet for all its campuses, colleges, schools, institutes, and research stations, it remains one University, under one Board of Regents and one president—the University of California.” University of California continues to take a “united approach” as one university in matters in which it inures to University of California’s advantage to do so, such as when negotiating with the legislature and governor in Sacramento. University of California continues to manage certain matters at the system wide level in order to maintain common standards across all campuses, such as student admissions, appointment and promotion of faculty, and approval of academic programs.

The State of California currently (2021–2022) spends $3.467 billion on the University of California system, out of total University of California operating revenues of $41.6 billion. The “University of California Budget for Current Operations” lists the medical centers as the largest revenue source, contributing 39% of the budget, the federal government 11%, Core Funds (State General Funds, University of California General Funds, student tuition) 21%, private support (gifts, grants, endowments) 7% ,and Sales and Services at 21%. In 1980, the state funded 86.8% of the University of California budget. While state funding has somewhat recovered, as of 2019 state support still lags behind even recent historic levels (e.g. 2001) when adjusted for inflation.

According to the California Public Policy Institute, California spends 12% of its General Fund on higher education, but that percentage is divided between the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. Over the past forty years, state funding of higher education has dropped from 18% to 12%, resulting in a drop in University of California’s per student funding from $23,000 in 2016 to a current $8,000 per year per student.

In May 2004, University of California President Robert C. Dynes and CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed struck a private deal, called the “Higher Education Compact”, with Governor Schwarzenegger. They agreed to slash spending by about a billion dollars (about a third of the university’s core budget for academic operations) in exchange for a funding formula lasting until 2011. The agreement calls for modest annual increases in state funds (but not enough to replace the loss in state funds Dynes and Schwarzenegger agreed to), private fundraising to help pay for basic programs, and large student fee hikes, especially for graduate and professional students. A detailed analysis of the Compact by the Academic Senate “Futures Report” indicated, despite the large fee increases, the university core budget did not recover to 2000 levels. Undergraduate student fees have risen 90% from 2003 to 2007. In 2011, for the first time in Univerchity of California’s history, student fees exceeded contributions from the State of California.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled in 2007 that the University of California owed nearly $40 million in refunds to about 40,000 students who were promised that their tuition fees would remain steady, but were hit with increases when the state ran short of money in 2003.

In September 2019, the University of California announced it will divest its $83 billion in endowment and pension funds from the fossil fuel industry, citing ‘financial risk’.

At present, the University of California system officially describes itself as a “ten campus” system consisting of the campuses listed below.

Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Barbara
Santa Cruz

These campuses are under the direct control of the Regents and President. Only these ten campuses are listed on the official University of California letterhead.

Although it shares the name and public status of the University of California system, the Hastings College of the Law is not controlled by the Regents or President; it has a separate board of directors and must seek funding directly from the Legislature. However, under the California Education Code, Hastings degrees are awarded in the name of the Regents and bear the signature of the University of California president. Furthermore, Education Code section 92201 states that Hastings “is affiliated with the University of California, and is the law department thereof”.