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A number of faculty members objected and were dismissed; In 1952, the University of California became an entity separate from the Berkeley campus.

Each campus was given relative autonomy and its own Chancellor.

With the completion of North and South Halls in 1873, the university relocated to its Berkeley location with 167 male and 22 female students Beginning in 1891, Phoebe Apperson Hearst made several large gifts to Berkeley, funding a number of programs and new buildings, and sponsoring, in 1898, an international competition in Antwerp, Belgium, where French architect Émile Bénard submitted the winning design for a campus master plan.

In 1905, the University Farm was established near Sacramento, ultimately becoming the University of California, Davis. Robert Oppenheimer was named scientific head of the Manhattan Project in 1942.

UC Berkeley's athletic teams date to this time and so are referred to as the California Golden Bears, Cal Bears, or just Cal. Nimitz established the first Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit at Berkeley.

Today, the term "University of California" refers to the statewide school system of which UC Berkeley is a part. During World War II, the military increased its presence on campus to recruit more officers, and by 1944, more than 1,000 Berkeley students were enrolled in the V-12 Navy College Training Program and naval training school for diesel engineering.

Berkeley is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and continues to have very high research activity with 9 million in research and development expenditures in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

Berkeley is also ranked 18th internationally among research universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 6th in the 2017 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.

They have also won 9 Wolf Prizes, 13 Fields Medals (including 3 alumni medalists), 23 Turing Awards (including 11 alumni awardees), 45 Mac Arthur Fellowships, Faculty member J. Oppenheimer, the "father of the atomic bomb", led the Manhattan project to create the first atomic bomb.

Nobel laureate Ernest Lawrence invented the cyclotron, based on which UC Berkeley scientists and researchers, along with Berkeley Lab, have discovered 16 chemical elements of the periodic table – more than any other university in the world.

Then governor of California Ronald Reagan called the Berkeley campus "...a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters, and sex deviants".

In 1982, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) supported by National Science Foundation was founded on Berkeley campus, under the request of three Berkeley mathematicians, Shiing-Shen Chern, Calvin Moore and Isadore M. The institute was later moved to the peak of Berkeley hills.

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