The history of UABC

Historical Records of UABC

The history of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California begins in the 1950s, when Baja California is recognized as a state of the Mexican Republic and the implementation of higher education in the state is sought after. The Organic Law of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) is enacted on February 28th, 1957, making it an official institution after years of analysis and promotion regarding the possibility of founding a state university.

The Pro University State Committee is formed, following the stipulations of the transitory articles, and on July 26th, 1957 a short list of three candidates is presented to assign the members of the first Governing Board.

In a context in which the university did not receive state or federal backing regarding budget and infrastructure, Governor Maldonado Sánchez donated the building of the Escuela Cuauhtémoc of Mexicali to UABC as its headquarters to hold the meetings of the Committee and Governing Board.

On April 26th, 1959, the president of the Committee, José Guadalupe González Cordero, passed away in Ensenada. In compliance with regulations, the position was then occupied by Mexicali-based Vice-president, Santos Silva Cota.

For a university to be considered as such, it is necessary that it develops academic, research, and cultural promotion activities. The former became a reality for UABC when Santos Silva Cota led the institution, for which he is considered the first Chancellor of the university. By the end of his administration, there were 2000 enrolled students, 253 academics, 5 high schools, 6 professional schools, and 3 research institutions. It was also under his administration that the official motto of the university “Por la realización plena del hombre” was created.
Assigned by the Governing Board on June 29th, 1966, one of his first actions as Chancellor was to relocate UABC headquarters, from the modest building on Calle B shared with the School of Social and Political Sciences, to a wider and more functional building located in Álvaro Obregón avenue, Mexicali. For personal reasons, the Chancellor filed a leave permit on June, 1967, and on November of that same year signed his resignation.
After the resignation of the last Chancellor, Rafael Soto Gil, former General Secretary, became the new Chancellor. He was officially appointed by the Governing Board on September 24th, 1968. His administration, as the two previous ones, is framed as part of the stabilizing development phase of the university, on its final phase, and marked by the presidency of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, represented by an unfavorable position towards universities. Regarding said position, a wide-reach project to decentralize higher education was implemented, simultaneous to the counter-reaction and repression by the federal government of the prominent student activism during the 1960s. Regardless of such repression, the enactment of the official agreement which assigned financial resources to UABC for its functioning, allowed the Chancellor’s Office to promote its development with a focus on planning, supported by the Mexican Association of Higher Education Universities and Institutions, or ANUIES (Asociación Nacional de Universidades e Instituciones de Educación Superior). A series of reforms were introduced in 1971, regarding the academic environment and derived from the stipulations of the Villahermosa Declaration. These included the introduction of the semester system, replacing the former annual one, more options for those unable to continue their undergraduate studies, as well as new degree completion options, and the diversification of educational programs. The building of the Mexicali unit begins.
During his administration, beginning in November, 1971, the federal budget for UABC was increased by 100%, while providing an additional infrastructure budget. This increase in budget resulted in educational programs increase, as well as the construction of more facilities, allowing every school in the university to manage their own buildings by 1975.
One of his developments was the promotion and restructuring of Radio Universidad. Another special event taking place during this administration was the relocation of the Chancellor’s Office headquarters to the former City Hall in 1977 by decree of governor Milton Castellanos. Such event provided special relevance to the university, given the historic meaning and appearance of the building, as well as its dimensions and style.
The architect Ruben Castro Bojórquez was assigned as Chancellor on August, 1979 and his administration was characterized for a series of measures aimed towards the systematization and complementation of institutional administration, as well as the legal framing regarding the institutionalization of UABC. During his administration, and thanks to an efficient management of the substantial budget given to the university, an intensive infrastructure building program was successful. This administration included the achievement of administrative reforms which allowed for an increased general efficiency, as well as the increase of academic levels. The existing departments were given the rank of offices, while new offices, which were necessary, were founded. Administrative management became decentralized through the creation of the Coast Region Vice-Chancellor’s Office. The former was possible through the development of a basic regulatory corpus, previously approved by the University Council, the General University Statute, including the General Academic Staff Statute, as well as a series of specific regulations.
Two months before being assigned as Chancellor on August 29th, 1983, the institution was the host of the General Assembly of ANUIES, marking the beginning of its national presence. Simultaneously, the context of national crisis led to the implementation of education budget restriction policies, which forced the university to plan its development while seeking support from the state and federal government to maintain its growth. This administration further extended the number of undergraduate educational programs, as well as graduate programs.
One of the main measures implemented by Alfredo Buenrostro Ceballos after being appointed Chancellor on August, 28th, 1987, was the presentation of the Institutional Development Plan (PDI) 1987-1991, which kept the modernization of education as one of its main and necessary objectives, based on the general tendencies at the time. Other measures included competition exams to provide top ranking candidates with academic tenure, as well as improving bibliographical and computer systems budgets, aimed towards increasing the competencies of academics and researchers. Correspondingly, this administration presented the first doctoral program in the institution.
This administration was characterized for focusing on academic and research matters, aimed towards promoting collaboration between the university and the productive sector. This was one of the objectives of the national tendencies towards modernization of education, which UABC was working hard for. Another academic policy was the implementation of a flexible curriculum which gave students the opportunity to enter programs from different faculties, as well as different universities. This administration reported a relevant advance in infrastructure, both in building construction as well as a series of renewals in various campuses. During the beginning of the administration of President Ernesto Zedillo, Lloréns Báez was invited to become Under Secretary of Higher Education and Scientific Research at the Secretariat of Public Education. He signed his resignation as Chancellor on December 5th, 1994.
Upon receiving the aforementioned resignation, the Governing Board swiftly appointed former General Secretary, Luis Javier Garavito Elías, as Chancellor on December 6th, 1994. The beginning of this administration paralleled the national economic crisis which, among other negative effects, severely devalued the Mexican peso. Additionally, the state government indebted itself to the university by not providing UABC with its corresponding budget. Nonetheless and under such hardships, the Chancellor presented the Institutional Development Plan 1995-1998. A trust was created with resources provided to pay the state debt, as well as extraordinary income, which allowed for a series of infrastructure projects to be built across the various campuses. During this administration, a series of events would portray the heightened sense of identity within the institutional community, namely the adoption of the bighorn sheep (cimarrón) as an identity symbol, as well as the selection of the university anthem, sung for the first time on February 28th, 1997.
This administration presented the PDI 1999-2002, which consulted the institutional community, as well as various state sectors. Based on this polling process, this document introduced immediate strategic planning actions, while promoting a mid-term and long-term vision. The Beltrán Corona administration aimed towards a competency focused approach to teaching, which UABC pioneered at a national level, through restructuring its study programs. This administration implemented more graduate programs, as well as the advanced technical degree. Enrollment increased by 16.5%, making of UABC the university with the highest enrollment rate in Baja California, attending to more than 80% of the higher education demand in the state. More construction projects were developed, which in the four-year period of this administration constituted 1.5 classrooms per day, while 13 educational programs obtained official accreditation.
This administration began on November 30th, 2002. It was characterized for the university reform. In its general objectives, the latter aimed towards focusing on academic matters over administrative ones, promoting the quality accreditation of study programs, extending institutional reach in terms of enrollment, and providing the community with accountability. Such reform to the General Statute was approved in 2003, resulting in a deep transformation of the administrative structure of the university. One of the key reform changes regarding administration was the implementation of offices, which substituted the existent directorates. One of the first actions of this administration was the creation of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office in Mexicali and Ensenada which, along with the preexistent Tijuana’s Vice-Chancellor’s Office, provided administrative decentralization. During this period, UABC was featured in the 2004 Best Mexican Universities awards ceremony. Regarding academic matters, the number of accredited programs increased, as well as enrollment opportunities and educational program variety. Regarding financial resource management, between 2002-2006, UABC became one of the most benefitted universities by extraordinary income with a budget of 319.7 million MXN. Additionally, the institution records reflected a high percentage of general income resulting from equity capital (27.80%) related to liaison actions. Correspondingly, during this period the pension funds of the academic and administrative staff were also strengthened. Regarding accountability, competitive examinations were implemented for administrative and academic positions, while undergraduate academic staff were reassigned according to their position within the institution, thus achieving a better balance between undergraduate and subject academic staff within the academic units. Finally, Fundación UABC A.C. and the University Court were created in 2003.
He was appointed as Chancellor by the Governing Board on December 6th, 2006. His administration aimed towards the increase of enrollment, educational programs (undergraduate and graduate), learning modalities, and the creation of an institutional tutoring system, as well as a significant promotion of student exchange programs. In terms of infrastructure, a series of buildings were constructed to alleviate the issues resulting from the constant institutional expansion. Regarding finances, equity capital became a substantial part of institutional resources and environmental liaison was strengthened.
He was appointed as Chancellor on January 27th, 2010. One of the most important policies of his administration was the implementation of liaison projects with every level of society, through the promotion of culture, for which cultural activities budget was increased. Correspondingly, one of the most important events in this administration was the creation of the UABC Symphony Orchestra in 2011, as well as the review and update of the educational model, based on the 2002-2006 period model. At an academic level, the Equity Committee was created and the number of educational programs, as well as enrollment, increased. At the same time, measures were taken to evaluate the increase in quality of the programs by submitting them to an evaluation system, the General Exam for Graduation (EGEL, by its acronym in Spanish). Additionally, emphasis was placed on seeking recognition from international organizations for undergraduate educational programs, as well as the accreditation of the institutional administration and management. Quality assurance in undergraduate and especially in graduate programs was reflected on the number of academics affiliated to the National System of Researchers (SNI, by its acronym in Spanish), as well as academics and researchers with a desirable profile in the Program for the Professional Development of Academics (Prodep, by its acronym in Spanish). During this administration, UABC enacted its Regulations for Accountability and Access to Information, and in terms of infrastructure, a major construction program was developed. In 2011, live online broadcasts of the Governing Board Head of Schools selection sessions were implemented, a practice which extended to the sessions of the University Council and in the next process of Chancellor succession.
He was appointed as Chancellor on December 6th, 2015. His administration focused on priority actions such as the special promotion for the accreditation of educational programs, establishment of an Institutional Social Responsibility Model, addressing environmental care and equity issues, and the creation of the Secretariat of Accountability. Within the PDI, a vision for 2025 was proposed. During this period, online learning was promoted, the growth of school population was stabilized due to national reductions in the allocation of public resources for higher education, and the number of academic bodies and research professors within the SNI and with the desirable Prodep profile were increased.
On January 27th, 2019, Daniel Octavio Valdez Delgadillo took oath as Chancellor of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California for the period of 2019-2023. He was in charge of creating the 2019-2023 PDI, which was based on a collaboration and inclusion focus, and allowed the proposals of students, alumni, academics, administrative staff, directors and officials, as well as the assessments of representatives of the public, social and private sectors, to materialize. The Institutional Development Plan 2019-2023 includes 3 transversal axes, 12 policies, 30 strategies, 127 actions and 348 indicators that will guide the activities of the university during the current administration and will support the tasks associated with institutional monitoring and evaluation processes.
Dr. Luis Enrique Palafox Maestre - Rector en función
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