I was going to title this post “When it was good,” but there’s so much juicy Time-ese in here that I had to cut off a slice for the headline. Anyway, this is how the press used to talk about the California Master Plan. So many lines here read in retrospect like such knowing predictions it makes me want to cry.

Few states are growing faster than California: whether by birth or by migration, the population increases by one a minute. Each year California’s growth matches the size of San Diego. Each day it needs one new school. Already it has the nation’s biggest public school system (3,300,000). Already it has the nation’s highest number of Collegians (234,000 fulltime), and 80% of them are on public campuses….

Californians are proud of their university network, and well they might be. It is huge, young, brilliant, aggressive, progressive….

In no other state is there such hot competition among so many public campuses. In no other state is there such need for coordination among them. California has a good record in this respect. But ascetic, Pennsylvania-born Economist Kerr has made it better. This year’s top education news in California is the “Master Plan”—an academic armistice largely fashioned by onetime Labor Mediator Kerr, who in 500 major labor negotiations developed the subtle skill that makes aides call him “the Machiavellian Quaker.”…

“Brother, you’re talking about the greatest system of public education in the world,” cries one state official. In recent years, Californians themselves have loudly agreed, and politicians have listened. Into the hopper at one session of the Sacramento legislature went 18 bills for new state colleges….

“The faculty can’t be driven,” Sproul said once. “It can only be persuaded.”…

The terms: Cal will accept only the top 12½% of high school graduates; state colleges will draw from the upper 333%. The two-year junior colleges—to be swelled to 85 while state colleges pause—will get everyone else…. All this is supposed to work under a super-coordinating committee, which met last week for the first time. But there is one big trouble: the legislature passed the plan as simple law, not a constitutional amendment, so future political meddling is inevitable….

Clark Kerr has pushed social sciences. In 1945 he started Berkeley’s Institute of Industrial Relations to mesh socio-economic studies. As chancellor, he boosted the sociology department to first rank. He also went on teaching and writing. His second book, Industrialism and Industrial Man (Harvard University Press), will be out next week; his bibliography is now 13 pages long. As president, he goes on refining his hopeful world theory of “industrial pluralism” (that high technology in time tears down dictatorships instead of strengthening them). Some day, he wants to quit administering and teach again…. He never learned to drink; only years later did he first taste liquor. “As a negotiator, I learned that whisky was a tool of my trade. You use it like a plumber uses a wrench.” He can still barely stand the stuff….

By 1965: Berkeley (now 21,563 students) and U.C.LA. (16,512) will stop at 27,500 each. Berkeley will have more graduate students, an even more luminous faculty. U.C.L.A. will also have more graduates, more dormitories, and solider courses to stave off the encircling “commuter” state colleges. By 1970: Davis (4,950) will hit 10,000, A changing cow college (cheer: “Bossie. cow cow, honey bee bee, oleomargarine, oleo butterine, alfalfa—hey!”), Davis will soon be a general university on a 3,000-acre farm-campus….

Last month those who were eligible for Berkeley were greeted at their first “orientation” by a fairly chilly official statement: “We assume you are adults. We won’t check up on you to see that you are in a given place at a given time. We won’t make sure you ask questions if you need answers, and we won’t make sure you seek outside help if you need it. Come to think of it, we won’t do much of anything for you. We assume you can take care of yourselves.”

How good an education will they get? It all depends on them. The schooling on Cal campuses is on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Berkeley’s brightest faculty lights have long been more interested in their own research than in undergraduates. Still, there is a saying around Berkeley that it is better to be 50 feet from a great man than five feet from an ordinary one.

From Time‘s cover story on Clark Kerr, Master Planner, 10/17/1960.