By Staff Writer - March 25, 2021

A brief history of PaCE

The innovative concept of lifelong learning and creating public service branches to public universities began toward the end of the 19th century. Unsurprisingly, the University of California was one of the first to establish such a program for the community. Pictured above are UC Santa Barbara students in 1944.

  • In 1891, three UC professors crossed the Bay by ferry to offer courses in San Francisco seeing an immediate and enthusiastic response.

  • In 1902, the Board of Regents made University Extension an autonomous department.   

  • In 1904, Extension was offering classes at 15 small sites around the state.

  • By 1912, Extension began offering correspondence courses.  By that time, Extension also began working with other institutions in offering classes to specific audiences in need for education, for example, the inmates at San Quentin and Folsom prisons.

  • In 1917, Extension began offering courses in Los Angeles (two years before UCLA was established). The end of the first world war saw California experience an economic boom accompanied by a dramatic increase in population.  This is when Extension began providing vocational and training courses to veterans and others eager to compete in new industrial markets.

  • In 1923, Extension launched the Workers’ Education Bureau of America, which offered courses in economics, public speaking, labor problems and history.

  • By 1924, Extension ranked second in the country in the number of continuing education courses offered by an institution of higher education.

  • During World War II, Extension classes became an important way for service personnel to continue their education.

  • At the end of the war, UCLA Extension met the critical need for retraining mandated by Southern California’s burgeoning aerospace industry, while UC Berkeley Extension expanded its business and engineering courses across the state.

  • In 1944, UC Santa Barbara Extension began offering classes; every time the University of California established a new campus, a new Extension unit opened. 

  • In 1947, the Regents of the University and the State Bar of California established  “Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB)”, one of the country’s largest continuing education program for lawyers.

  • By the early 1950’s, a typical Extension student was someone who already had at least some higher education, and 67% were employed in professional, semi professional, or managerial occupations.   

  • By 1968, Extension was completely self-supporting after Governor Edmund G. Brown eliminated Extension’s small portion of state funding.

  • During the 1970’s and 1980’s, Extension prepared professionals to work in the areas of social issues, including hazardous materials, alcohol and drug abuse, transportation planning, water quality, and conservation and biotechnology. 

The 1960s saw a trend toward decentralization and the UC campuses, along with the Extension units, were given more autonomy. The state was divided into eight regions, one assigned to each Extension unit, which meant that all Californians were considered. 
Certificate Programs
As the job market saw increasing demand for specialization, an efficient way to obtain training was needed for those seeking employment or advancement.  Extension met that demand by developing certificate programs.  Today, the widely recognized Extension certificates are granted in more than 50 fields, including the arts, business and management, engineering, science, health and behavioral sciences, humanities, social sciences, computer science and applications, and education.
Extension brings more than 13,000 courses to some 400,000 students every year and has offered programs throughout Europe and Asia – a reflection of the changing world we live in!
To this day, PaCE retains its most important function – that of a highly effective resource for professional career development. PACE has made it possible for adults to keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields, to acquire new skills, and to pursue new careers with the finest academic and professional resources from art to science, humanities to education, and high technology to business management.

Related topics