Face it, Tritons—we’re different.

We come from a different kind of university. We’re not big on bricks and ivy—our league is another entirely. One that stretches across oceans, that dives as deep into DNA as it does modern dance. Ours is a campus where theories are posed and boundaries are broken, where conventions are shaken and new concepts are king.

This all began in 1960, when UC San Diego was itself just a concept, and there was one man who could see it clearest: Roger Revelle. He could see it—all of us learning, graduating and going on to make our impact on the world. Revelle saw greatness and recruited the brightest minds of his time, hand-picking faculty and a graduate student body that led our legacy of discovery.

In 1964, when the U.S. Marine Corps gave our first Chancellor Herbert York the land that held the former Camp Matthews, our founders took that military base and made the academic marvel we’re all now a part of. On fields that once held target practice, undergraduate minds were sharpened and challenged to shoot for stars. We took classes in Quonset huts and the barracks became our bookstore. No other alumni have such bootstrap beginnings—we made ourselves from scratch here on the cliffs, treading upon eucalyptus and breathing in the sea salt as we studied.

And boy, did we study. You don’t become one of the top 15 research institutions in the world by resting on laurels. This history of distinction rests upon you, Tritons. You made this university as much as it made you. You make up our tradition of nontradition. This is how it began, and you are how it continues.

But wait!

Even our “beginning” is a bit nontraditional. Before there was UC San Diego, there was Scripps Institution of Oceanography. With beginnings just as humble, Scripps began in an early 1900s Coronado boathouse and then became a “little green lab” at La Jolla Shores before making our campus coastline the global destination for environmental understanding. Scripps was where our exploratory spirit was born, where the legends of the time like Charles Keeling first detailed the effects of climate change, and where living legends like Walter Munk became the first proto-alumni of UC San Diego.

Now over a century strong, Scripps has evolved from wooden masts and canvas sails to a fleet of four state-of-the-art ships, like our latest R/V Sally Ride. Though based on our beach, our fleet and researchers span the world at any moment, living up to the legacy that keeps us the leader in understanding our oceans, Earth and atmosphere, and the authority on strategizing our future relationship with our world—how we will respond, adapt and thrive on our planet.


The Icon

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Central (now Geisel) Library shares the same architect, William Pereira, as the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid.

Perhaps our most recognizable icon, UC San Diego’s Geisel Library (named for the good Dr. Seuss) is an otherworldly sight, our unique and distinctive spirit made concrete. Far from traditional architecture, construction of Central Library (or “not-so” to some Tritons) made a statement as bold as our approach to education. Generations of students have studied among its panoramic views, from which you could see 360 degrees of our ever-evolving campus.


Next-Gen Care for the Next Generation

JMC-Hillcrest Hospital
Standing as a beacon of health care for our community and beyond, Jacobs Medical Center is UC San Diego’s latest and most visible icon, recently constructed along the I-5 corridor.

Since the 1966 founding of University Hospital in Hillcrest, UC San Diego has made a mission of improving the quality of human life and health to make the world a better place.

The only academic health system in the region, UC San Diego Health translates research breakthroughs to quality care at every facility, including Thornton Hospital, Moores Cancer Center, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Shiley Eye Center and the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute. This bench-to-bedside principle is the heart of the flagship Jacobs Medical Center, the latest, largest and most technologically advanced hospital in the region, representing our dedication to enriching human life and society and our commitment to serving the community.


The Science of Synapse

Cog sci has come a long way from the hair dryer—professor Marta Kutas applies electrodes 1980’s style. Our Department of Cognitive Science—the first ever in the world—was founded in 1987 and unites scholars from across campus to study the brain, behavior and computation.

Behind any breakthrough, there first comes thought. And seeing the interdisciplinary potential throughout UC San Diego, our Department of Cognitive Science was established in 1987—the first such department in the world. Led by professors Don Norman, Jeff Elman and Jean Mandler, the department is devoted to the study of thought, learning and mental organization, and lends insight into our interactions with each other, with interfaces and, of course, everyday things.


A Visual Story

At first glance, it’s just a red shoe, a big blue net or flashing neon words, yet from the quirky to the controversial, each piece in The Stuart Collection has its own story to tell (and sometimes our trees talk back). Our campus is home to the most eclectic, exceptional, even downright inexplicable collections of public art at any university.StuartSungod From Sun God and Bear to Fallen Star and Snake Path, every student past and present has his or her favorite, and all accept the everyday wonder of the Stuart Collection as part of our uniquely UC San Diego experience.The first Stuart Collection piece gave birth to the Sun God Festival, said to be the one and only day of the year  UC San Diego students cut loose and class becomes unofficially “optional.” Starting one year after the statue found its perch in 1983, the annual event has brought forth indie, mainstream and student bands, DJs and a bevy of unique festival posters—check them out here.

Turning Data into Discovery 

Where computers like this from the School of Medicine once used reams of paper, the sleek powerhouses at the San Diego Supercomputer Center now draw researchers from institutions the world over to access the processing prowess on our campus.
Where computers like this from the School of Medicine once used reams of paper, the sleek powerhouses at the San Diego Supercomputer Center now draw researchers from institutions the world over to access the processing prowess on our campus.

With names like Blue Horizon, Dash, Gordon and Comet, the processing powerhouses at the San Diego Supercomputer Center sound more like superheroes than supercomputers. But given that they’ve helped track the origins of the universe, fight runaway wildfires and catch notorious cybercriminals, they just may be a bit of both. Researchers from universities around the nation come to UC San Diego to harness their data-crunching power, resulting in discoveries that have spanned all frontiers—from genomic, seismic, and even the political arena. Stay tuned to Triton magazine for more on this unique campus superpower.

A Chancellor’s Promise

“You belong at UC San Diego—we are here to help you achieve your goals and your dreams.” This was Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla’s message to students at the 2013 launch of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program, a scholarship program that helps the best and brightest youth from underserved communities change the trajectory of their lives. The program provides financial support and additional aid to local low-income and first-generation college students, as well as to those from Native American tribes and the nonprofit organization Reality Changers, led by Christopher Yanov ’99. With the support of Chancellor’s Associates, a university donor group, more than 350 talented and ambitious scholars have been given the gift of a UC San Diego education.KhoslaPruess

Many scholars also come from our own Preuss School UCSD, an experimental middle and high school that began in a trailer at Marshall College and grew to be a permanent campus recognized as one of the best high schools in the nation. Young minds from all corners of San Diego County attend, with the expectation that they will be the first in their families to attend college.

Where Art Meets Science


Imagine a space where artists and engineers work shoulder-to-shoulder on projects that connect theory with practice. That’s the spirit behind EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker’s Studio, a hands-on, experiential teaching facility that encourages visual arts and engineering students to think, design, make, tinker, break and build again. The studio provides a wide range of design, fabrication and prototyping tools, encouraging cross-collaboration and a harmonious intersection of aesthetic and structural principles.

Graduate Roots Revisited

UC San Diego began as a graduate school, so professional degree programs are naturally part of our DNA. Our School of Medicine has trained doctors of tomorrow since 1968 and was complemented in 2004 by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, leveraging UC San Diego’s unique resources to pioneer areas like marine pharmacology and pharmacogenomics—the latest frontiers of medicine.


The School of Global Policy and Strategy (est. 1986 as International Relations and Pacific Studies) was the first school of international affairs in the UC system and continues to evolve to address global issues of conflict, cooperation, and societal changes in the modern age.

Much like the startup companies it nurtures, the Rady School of Management was a business school built from the ground up in 2001. Over 100 alumni companies later, it stands with a host of business incubators on campus as a testament to Triton entrepreneurs’ impact on 21st-century industry.


A key capital project of the Campaign for UC San Diego slated for completion by the end of 2020, the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood will bring together new student housing, academic buildings and classrooms, and dining and retail space. This LEED Platinum project—including the new home for Sixth College, a new Arts and Humanities building, a new Social Sciences Public Engagement Building, new studio and maker spaces, the new Craft Center, and underground parking—will create a welcoming environment that engages students, faculty, staff, and the broader community in interactive, shared experiences and personal connections. (Rendering by HKS/Safdie Rabines Architects)

UC San Diego started as a vision and grew into the university where you chose to belong. Now, 170,000 alumni later, the future of UC San Diego is a vision we can all share, one we can all make real, and one that will make a difference:

Make a difference for students who walk in your path, with an education that is accessible and affordable to all. So that as our alumni ranks continue to grow, every Triton unleashed on the world is well prepared, supported, and poised to make the impact UC San Diego is known for.  Whether it’s the next great playwright or a trailblazing climate scientist, the next daring astronaut or a life-saving surgeon, support of students is support for our future and what they will make of it.

Make a difference in our community. We built ourselves from the ground up, now we open ourselves up—our campus and the work we do. With intellectual and cultural offerings for all to take part in, together we’re building the means to share the wonder of the arts, the thrill of scientific discovery and the marvel of technology. Consider your university becoming one without boundaries or borders; think of returning to a campus where with one look, you know you have arrived. You can help make this happen, and shape what the world will come to know as UC San Diego.

Make a difference in the world—just as we have for all these decades. We continue our legacy of research, discovery, breakthroughs and innovations, all for the sake of improving life on this planet. It’s been our style from the start—to dive deeper, to challenge convention, to be the place where education means passing along the spirit of curiosity and the boldness to question the given traditions, and to create our own: a risk-taking, rule-breaking, can-only-happen-here nontradition.

So face it, Tritons. Clearly, you are different. Now it’s time to make a difference. 

Learn more about the Campaign for UC San Diego.