In 1866, the private College of California purchased the land comprising the current Berkeley campus. Because it lacked sufficient funds to operate, it eventually merged with the state-run Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College to form the University of California, the first full-curriculum public university in the state.
Ten faculty members and almost 40 students made up the new University of California when it opened in Oakland in 1869. Frederick H. Billings was a trustee of the College of California and suggested that the college be named in honor of the Anglo-Irish philosopher George Berkeley.In 1870, Henry Durant, the founder of the College of California, became the first president. With the completion of North and South Halls in 1873, the university relocated to its Berkeley location with 167 male and 222 female students and held its first classes.
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. By the 1920s, the number of campus buildings had grown substantially, and included twenty structures designed by architect John Galen Howard.
In 1952, the University of California became an entity separate from the Berkeley campus. Each campus was given relative autonomy and its own Chancellor. Then-president Sproul assumed presidency of the entire University of California system, and Clark Kerr became the first Chancellor of UC Berkeley.