As a scientist, much of my research has centered on how we perceive time and adapt to it. The passage of time, of course, has always been measured in units: hours, days, months and years. And no other number is celebrated in our society quite like 100.
The number 100 is the basis of percentages and the sum of the first nine prime numbers. On the Celsius scale, 100 is the boiling point for water. References to the number 100 can also be found in several religions. And, this year, UCLA turns 100 years old.
“Our successes have not been the product of natural inevitability. They are the result of hard work, risk and vision.”
Our yearlong Centennial Celebration launches on May 18 with a series of exciting events, including a light and sound projection show on Royce Hall and an inspiring TEDxUCLA event during our annual Alumni Day. If you’re unable to join us for the launch, don’t worry. We are already planning additional events and celebrations in cities across the country, and even in a few spots abroad so that you can be part of this historic moment, even if you’re far from Westwood.
A series of other initiatives throughout the year will redefine and expand UCLA’s commitment to service. These will include a project by our libraries to increase access to UCLA scholarship; a major exhibition by our museums; a traveling exhibit on UCLA’s role in advancing equity and equality; and a Centennial Youth Summit involving students from across our city.
One of the most extraordinary things about UCLA, I’ve always thought, is how much our university has accomplished in its first century, which is still a relatively short time in the life of a major university. Among these accomplishments are a $1B research enterprise, a top-ranked health system, 116 NCAA championships (and counting!), more applications for admission than any other school in the nation, and countless top honors for faculty across campus.
The top 25 universities in the United States, according to this year’s rankings by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, include 24 universities that have already celebrated their centennials, most of them decades or even centuries ago. UCLA is the youngest institution on that list — and, I might add, the only public university to break the top 25!
Milestones like this are moments of great pride, but our successes have not been the product of natural inevitability. They are the result of hard work, risk and vision — including the vision of those who have challenged us to be better and to dream bigger.
Our centennial is a time not only to look back and celebrate, but also to look around and ahead to determine what still needs to be done and how we can best achieve it.
In the coming months, you will begin seeing the number 100 appear alongside our logo on campus and across Los Angeles. But even though 100 makes us think of 100%, suggesting wholeness or completion, this is just the beginning of our next era. UCLA’s work will never be complete. There will always be more to learn, higher to go, and more we can do to make our university, and our world, better — particularly with your help. Our past is inspiring, but our future is truly exciting.