During the early years of the Cold War, federal policies authorizing expanded government support of basic scientific research convinced California legislators, public administrators, educators, and businesspersons that real opportunities existed for enlarging the state’s institutions of science and higher learning. Advocates of the idea in San Diego, eager to secure the economic and cultural benefits that a new university and center of academic scientific research would bring to the city, pressed the state and the UC system for action throughout the 1950s. Their efforts were eventually rewarded when a graduate school of science and engineering opened its doors in 1960, along the coast in La Jolla, on land donated by the city. Undergraduates first arrived for instruction in 1964. Scientific research programs at the university have been a source of biotech innovation since the late 1970s.
Campus timeline: http://ucsd.edu/timeline/