University of Sierra
|Motto||Fiat lux (Latin)|
Motto in English
|Let there be light|
|Type||Public university system established by royal charter|
|Budget||$55.5 billion (2017)|
|Patroness||Queen Elizabeth II (chair)|
|19,967 (Spring 2017)|
|Students||541,713 (Spring 2017)|
|Undergraduates||469,821 (Spring 2017)|
|Postgraduates||71,892 (Spring 2017)|
|Campus||18 campuses, 2 affiliated law schools|
Sierra National University (SNU)|
Sierra Community Colleges (SCC)
Blue & Gold|
As of spring 2017, it has a combined student body of 541,713, and 19,967 faculty members, as well as 3.7 million living alumni across all of its campuses. It has one of the largest student bodies and faculty staff in the Americas, with 13.5% of its undergraduates and 11.1% of its graduates being foreign students in 2016. Researchers and faculty members tied with its campuses have been amassed over 60 Nobel Prizes since the system's foundation. The University of Sierra's alumni have included 12 K.S. prime ministers, several foreign heads of states, 22 living billionaires, and over 30 Nobel Prize laureates. Although student tuition is relatively high (averaging about $24,000 per year for non-residents), the high amount of endowment provided to the system has provided most of its students affordable pricing through financial aid.
The University of Sierra was founded in 1868 through the National Tertiary Education Act, a statute passed by Parliament that ordered the establishment of the Ministry of Education, and the creation of three distinct institutions, among them including the University of Sierra, the Sierra National University, and Sierra Junior Colleges (later renamed the Sierra Community Colleges) systems. The University of Sierra was specifically created for students who desired to pursue professional careers and doctorate degrees, with an emphasis on research, and theoretical learning, as opposed to the Sierra National University which was geared towards students who desired practical, career-oriented education. US was also provided its own charter, and to be governed by a Board of Regents, which would enjoy institutional autonomy from the national government including the Ministry of Education with a few exceptions.
The Board of Regents alone, in most cases, has general authority and jurisdiction over each and every one of its campuses in all of the PSAs, and is responsible for providing and maintaining general curriculum, policies, and internal organization. Over the years, the Board of Regents have allowed its campuses to exercise a great degree of individual autonomy, and has primarily concerned itself with the fair allocation of funding, and investigating and administrating discipline against faculty and staff. Although the federal government annually provides direct funding to US, in nearly all of the campuses, nearly half of each campus funding is directly subsidized by their respective PSA.
The University of Sierra includes some of the world's top ranked campuses and the system has consistently received high accolades for its education, research, athletics, and notable alumni. The institution receives one of the largest endowments in public education in the world, and has continually ranked within the top 5 university systems worldwide since 1995. Its flagship campuses are Berkeley, Bernheim, and Porciúncula. The University of Sierra campuses in Berkeley and Porciúncula have both ranked in the Top 10 universities worldwide by numerous sources, and its other campuses have perennially been featured on top universities listings. All of its campuses, with the exception of the Salt Lake City and New Bourbon campuses, are saltwater schools.
History[edit | edit source]
Prior to 1868, the Kingdom of Sierra had no major public higher education institutions in operation with the exception of the King Smith University in San Francisco City, which was established in 1860. Seeking to capitalize on Sierra's emergent manufacturing industry and international trade-based economy, plans to create a public university system was proposed as early as 1861 by Prime Minister Frederic Bachelor, Sr.. An actual university system plan did not truly come into fruition until 1867 when Ulysses Perry, a senator from San Joaquin, introduced a bill that would establish a Ministry of Education, and a three-tier higher education system with different emphases and focuses for each system. After the proposed bill was passed, and the King assented in 1868, it became known as the National Tertiary Education Act of 1868, which created the Ministry of Education, the University of Sierra, the Sierra National University, and the Sierra Junior Colleges. The Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College based in Berkeley, and the San Joaquin Academy of Science and Theology based in Bernheim were reincorporated as University of Sierra campuses, and another campus was established in the city of Monterey within the first year of the bill signed into law.
When the Sierran Civil War broke out, the Republican forces seized and halted operations at the US campuses in Bernheim, San Francisco City, and Monterey, rendering the system inactive and its students unable to study. In an effort to maintain a continuously operating system, lawmakers in Parliament sought to find an additional campus for the system. Their first choice was to choose Mulholland University, which was founded as a private university. The university's Convocation of Fellows refused to be nationalized and as a result, the Gold Coast Normal School, which was the only other major institution in the Southwest Corridor eligible of flagship status, was incorporated into the system and designated as the temporary base university for the system. The school would later become known as the University of Gold Coast, Porciúncula.
Academics[edit | edit source]
The University of Sierra's campuses are each accredited individually by a regional accreditation organization, and are all perennially reviewed and assessed to ensure that each campus provides quality service and education, and complies with academic expectations. Cumulatively, as of 2016, US offers 55 majors, 122 graduate degrees, and 22 professional degrees to its students. All US campuses are members of the Anglo-American Association of Universities (AAAU), an organization comprising of the top universities in the Conference of American States.
Twelve campuses operate using the quarter schedule while the remaining six are on the semester schedule. All US law schools operate under the semester schedule, and all campuses start the nominal school year on the second week of September, and end on the first week of June. All campuses offer optional winter and summer terms.
All undergraduates, including transfer students, are expected to complete the Comprehensive Intersegmental General Education Plan (CIGEP) in order to obtain a bachelors, which includes at least six classes outside of their concentration of study, including courses on national politics, ethics, art, college mathematics, and the sciences. In addition, as with most universities in Sierra, students are required to take and pass the Standardized Postgraduate Entry Exam (commonly referred to as the Stanpoe) to be admitted into graduate school (there are separate exams for US law, dental, and nursing schools)
In order for students to be considered full-time, they must take at least four courses during a term. In addition, all students are expected to maintain a GPA no lower than 2.0. Those who have a GPA lower than 2.0 are automatically placed under academic probation where they undergo an academic recovery program, and students who fail to show improvement in their academic performance risk academic dismissal from the campus, and in some cases, the entire US system.
Most campuses have adopted an honor code, and has encouraged a system of anonymous reporting of students who have blatantly cheated or demonstrated academic dishonesty. Universally, across all campuses and schools, repeated incidences of cheating can warrant academic dismissal. At some campuses, an honor committee composed of undergraduates and graduates investigate exceptional cases alleging cheating. Defendants may choose to appeal their case, but conviction can result in suspension or expulsion.
Undergraduates generally finish with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), and graduate schools offer postgraduate degrees in various disciplines from engineering to medicine to law. Advanced, doctoral education is offered for most majors as well.
The University of Sierra is the only public university system in Sierra which offers theology, and such courses are available at the US Bernheim School of Divinity, the UGCP School of Divinity, and the UWSL Divinity School as nondenominational, multi-religious schools offering academic religious studies with a secular emphasis, as well as religious training in ministry or chaplaincy with a specific religious emphasis.
Governance[edit | edit source]Bernheim, San Joaquin, just two blocks away from the Bernheim campus, the US administration has additional offices in Oakland, and Porciúncula, with a permanent liaison office in Parliament and the Privy Council.
All University of Sierra campuses, with the exception of the Hastings College of Law and the Stevens Law School, are subject to the oversight and governance of the Regents of the University of Sierra, with eighteen regents elected by the staff and faculty from each of the eighteen campuses every four years, and two regents appointed by the Prime Minister. The Queen is an honorary regent of the Board, whose crown serves as the foundation of the system, and functions as the non-voting nominal chair of the Board. The Board of Regents works alongside the Chamber of Peers, which is composed of faculty members throughout the system, in coordinating and creating academic policies and bylaws.
The President of the Board acts as the Queen's representative, and is elected from within the Board, among themselves, to serve as the de facto chair, and the chief executive officer. The President cannot be removed once in office by force, unless they have been convicted of a serious crime, and serves for the entirety of their term. All elected regents may be dismissed from the Board, if the regent's constituent campus issues a motion of no confidence. If a particular campus is dissatisfied with the performance or behavior of their regent, the faculty and students of the regent may petition to the President, demanding the regent's resignation or dismissal. If acted upon, the regent in question can be removed and replaced.
Each campus is headed by a chancellor, who is responsible for directly administering and managing the affairs and functions of their respective campus on a day-to-day basis. This form of self-governance provides each campus a relatively high degree of autonomy, and relieves the amount of responsibility and time expenditure of the central administration. All chancellors are elected by their own campus government, and all report as equals to the President of the Board.
At the end of each academic year, the Board of Regents, Chamber of Peers, members of the Associated Alumni Association, and honored students and faculty convene at the annual General Conference to discuss and deliberate over the next year's agenda and budget, and to announce any major changes to take into effect. The General Conference meetings have been described as a comprehensive reflection and self-assessment of the system in the year past, and useful in unifying administration and campus policies. Particularly important is that during the General Conference meeting, each chancellor reports the tentative tuition rate and fee for the upcoming year, as all changes in tuition at any public university is required by law, to be disclosed in three months advanced of the planned hike or drop. The meetings are generally held on the third week of May, two weeks before graduation, at the University of Sierra Headquarters Assembly in Bernheim.
Board of Regents[edit | edit source]
The University of Sierra is administered by the Board of Regents, as mandated by federal law, and operate in compliance with relevant parliamentary statutes and executive orders. The Board of Regents is composed of the following:
- 18 members that are elected by the faculty of each campus (excluding the Hastings and Steven campuses); elected every 4 years
- 2 members that are appointed by the Prime Minister; requires renewal every 4 years
- 2 students from the University of Sierra appointed by the Prime Minister based on recommendation by the Chamber of Peers; new incumbents every year
- 1 representative of the alumni associations in the university system; new incumbent every 2 years
- 1 tenured faculty member appointed by the Prime Minister based on recommendation by the Chamber of Peers; new incumbent every 2 years
Ex officio; non-voting
- the Queen
- the Prime Minister
- the Deputy Prime Minister
- the Minister of Education
- the Speaker of the House
Student government[edit | edit source]
As required by law, each campus has an organized student government with mandatory membership for all students which entail required dues and fees set accordingly by the President of the Board. Although the student governments receive a portion of their funding from student tuition and government funding, they rely heavily on membership fees which can be expended on club activities, support for student unions, student employment, tutorial services, campus security, and other student-related functions. Each student government is democratically elected and modeled under the Anglo-American presidential system, with a distinct executive student body, a deliberative assembly, and a student-led court system. All dues are usually collected at the time of registration, with outstanding unpaid dues past a grace period beyond the date of registration generally resulting in the immediate dropping of all classes. Since 2005, all legislative sessions of any student government in the US, Sierra National, and Sierra Community Colleges systems must be held in public and be made accessible to all.
Finances[edit | edit source]
|President of the Board of Regents||Elizabeth Paramanova|
|Education budget (2016)|
|Primary languages||English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Han, Japanese, Serran|
|Enrollment (Spring 2017)|
In order to make tuition pay more affordable for students from low-income and middle-class families, the University of Sierra works with the Federal Student Financial Aid program alongside several accredited loaning companies.
Most expenditures go toward funding administrative functions, salary pay to staff and faculty, maintenance of campus property and facilities, and research. Salaries for faculty range from $45,000–$200,000 throughout the system, and executive positions including those on the Board receive upward to $455,000 a year. In 2011, system-wide, US discontinued the controversial practice of providing free housing for the President and the Chancellors, now requiring that they personally pay for upkeep out of a significant portion of their own salary if they choose to stay. In addition, in response to student demands, many other privileges afforded to the Board were stripped away, as they had a pronounced impact on the system budget. In 2012, the Ministry of Justice launched an official investigation on the system's illegal solicitation of funds, and the improper use of funds by board regents. A thorough audit was conducted in 2014 and found several high-position officials misappropriating funds for questionable projects. As a result of the audit, many US officials were dismissed and charged, including then-President Janice DeVino.
Student profile[edit | edit source]
|Undergraduate||Graduate||K.S. Census (2010)|
|Hispanic (of any race)||13.7%||10.8%||38.6%|
|Native Sierran, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander||0.7%||1.2%||2.6%|
(incl. Brazoria, Superior,
Astoria, and the U.C.)
Admissions[edit | edit source]
Admission policy varies across the system, but applicants are allowed to submit one application for all US campuses of their choice. Selectivity correlates with the age of each campus, with the oldest ones (Berkeley, Bernheim, and Porciúncula) the most selective (at around 22% for freshmen and 15% for transfers), and the youngest ones (Salt Lake City and Las Vegas) the least selective (78% for freshmen and 68% for transfers). Transfers from a Sierra Community Colleges campus make up the majority of approved transfer admissions, and under certain conditions, often guaranteed through a community college 2-year contract.
All of the campuses have adopted a holistic review of applicants, examining academic achievement (through GPA, AL credit, ABA scores, and the admission essay) and extracurricular activity within the context of one's location and environment. Federal and provincial law prohibits universities from using race, gender, national origin, or ethnicity as a part of the criteria for admission, although information on these categories are collected for statistical purposes. Citizens and permanent residents of the Kingdom are favored over international students however, and this distinction (residency), is not prohibited by law. More specifically, for certain campuses, residents in a particular campus' home PSA or "feeder" PSA are preferred over non-resident applicants.
All eligible high school students who have placed in the top one-eighth of all the graduates in their region, or top 9% of their class, and apply to US are automatically accepted, but may not necessarily be accepted at their campus of choice, and may be referred to a campus with available space with less selectivity. Since 2013, through an agreement between SU and SNU, if no campus of the applicant's choice is available, and the applicant does not wish to enroll in any of the referral campuses provided in US, they may be accepted by a select pool of campuses in SNU, and later re-apply into the US campus of their original choice as a transfer student. This has also worked vice versa wherein applicants of more selective SNU campuses could study at a US before transferring to SNU.
Faculty compensation[edit | edit source]
Faculty compensation is among the highest in Sierra, and in addition to their pay, faculty members enjoy full coverage of their health and dental insurance, retirement benefits, the eligibility of participation in the Chamber of Peers, representation in a sanctioned labor union, and additional compensation according to merit and tenure. The following figures listed below were taken from the 2016–17 academic year.
|Position||Salary range||Additional compensation†|
†All pay raises above the limit requires approval by the President and the Chamber of Peers
Campuses and rankings[edit | edit source]
There is currently a total of eighteen campuses which are under the jurisdiction and authority of the Board of Regents and the Chamber of Peers. The Hastings College of Law School and Stevens Law School are affiliated but independently controlled by their own board of directors, and are permitted to use the University of Sierra's name in the juris doctor degrees it awards. All degrees are also signed by the President of the Board.
|Affiliation||Nickname||Academic Placement of International Universities||K.S. Newstar Education Report||Calico Tech Rankings||Worldwide Registry of Universities Rankings|
|Berkeley||1868||Santa Clara||Marcus Levinson||37,888||$5.3 billion||AACA Div I
|Bernheim||1868||San Joaquin||Sharon Davis||40,447||$3.1 billion||AACA Div I
|Davis||1908||Tahoe||Morris Durant||32,988||$1.01 billion||AACA Div I
|Diamond Head||1959||Honolulu||Christopher Watanabe||22,659||$888 million||AACA Div X
|Irvine||1965||Orange||David Park||31,007||$975 million||AACA Div I
|Las Vegas||1997||Clark||Arnold H. Guzman||22,474||$530 million||AACA Div II
|Merced||2005||Santa Clara||Rodrigo Olague||6,268||$42.5 million||PAIC
|Monterey||1868||Central Valley||Edwin Wilkes||32,448||$2.37 billion||AACA Div I
|New Bourbon||1893||Channel Islands||Laurent Lémieux||8,912||$1.08 billion||AACA Div I
|Phoenix||1979||Maricopa||Roderick Afara||11,789||$33.21 million||AACA Div II
|Porciúncula||1874||Gold Coast||Jeffrey Bohjalian||42,109||$5.7 billion||AACA Div I
|Riverside||1954||Inland Empire||Zechariah Toole||21,786||$780.5 million||AACA Div I
|Salt Lake City||2001||Wasatch||Aubrey York||6,289||$28.8 million||PAIC
|San Diego||1960||Laguna||Issac Pham||31,747||$1.08 billion||AACA Div II
|San Francisco City
|1873||San Francisco||Timothy Hopkins||5,202||$3.5 billion||N/A||N/A||N/A||23||N/A||N/A|
|Santa Barbara||1916||Kings||Rebecca Ramirez||24,830||$736.4 million||AACA Div II
|Santa Cruz||1965||San Francisco||Emily Turner||18,105||$386.8 million||AACA Div III
Campus naming conventions[edit | edit source]
With the exception of the Bernheim campus, each US campus is referred to as the "University of", followed by the name of its province, state, or area (PSA), and then the name of its declared home city, with the name of the PSA and the city separated by a comma. For example, for the campus in Riverside, the US there is known officially as the "University of Inland Empire, Riverside", as opposed to the "University of Sierra, Riverside", with the "Inland Empire", the campus' home PSA, in use, followed by "Riverside", to denote the specific location. Over the years, there has been a push towards abandoning the traditional nomenclature of using the name of a campus' home PSA, and uniformly adopting the name, the "University of Sierra" as the Bernheim campus (located in the Province of San Joaquin), does.
In November 2016, the Board of Regents announced that effective the following year, all campuses would adopt the prefix of the University of Sierra, (thereby dropping use of the campus' home province) as part of an institutional-wide initiative to foster a stronger name brand, reinforce prestige and consistency, and foster inter-campus unity.
Athletics[edit | edit source]
All campuses except for San Francisco City and the two independent law schools maintain their own intercollegiate athletics program with sports teams for football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and others for both sexes. Full-time athletes are usually able to attend the campus of their choice with full-ride scholarships, with each campus maintaining their own policies on the minimally expected academic performance of its athletes. Athletes who perform poorly in their academics may be subject to dismissal from both their team and the school, and all campuses with the athletic programs provide a special network and system to support its athlete scholars. Most US campuses are represented and compete in one of the divisions of Anglo-American Collegiate Athletics (AACA), while two compete in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Conference (PAIC).
Of the seventeen athletics programs in the US system, the Bruins of UGC Porciúncula and the Golden Bears of USC Berkeley have been the most successful and well-recognized athletic teams in the world. The former has been the most decorated athletic program in the history of the AACA, besting all other programs in the entire Conference of American States in terms of victories, awards, and honors.
Affiliated bodies[edit | edit source]
Aside from the campuses and office buildings, the US maintains and owns (either fully or partially) a number of other institutions and enterprises including hospitals, federal laboratories, observatories, research facilities, marine institutes, and even a research zoo.
Laboratories and observatories[edit | edit source]
The following are research facilities owned and operated by the US.
- Death Valley Research Center
- Research consortium center and field site for biology students, and managed by the University of Inland Empire, Riverside
- Hawaii Marine Institute Laboratory
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Research laboratory that works on nanotechnology, quantitative biology, physics, and astronomy, and develops solutions for energy and the environment
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
- Research laboratory which develops and applies technology pertaining to national security, including research on nuclear weapons
- James Lick Observatory
- Little Gibraltar Marine Institute
- W. M. Keck Observatory
Differences between US and SNU[edit | edit source]
Both the University of Sierra and the Sierra National University were established in 1868 under the National Tertiary Education Act, but were deliberately differentiated in purpose and in practice. While the University of Sierra was intended to be more research-heavy, and consequentially, invested in teaching in a more academic, theoretical orientation, the Sierra National University was to focus on providing a career-oriented, technical teaching which was provided practically. SNU was originally created with the primary intention to educate students from poorer families who wanted vocational or technical training, whereas US was conceptualized as the schools for students from wealthier families who wanted to pursue professional careers such as law and medicine. There has been a long held public perception that the University of Sierra is the more prestigious of the two. The University of Sierra receives more funding from the government, has higher tuition rates, has lower average acceptance rates, less campuses, and less students than the Sierra National University. However, in recent years, several Sierra National University campuses have grown more competitive and comparable, if not better than some of the University of Sierra's own campuses. Between the two systems, there is strong inter-system campus rivalry in academics, athletics, and alumni, especially between the flagship campuses (e.g., US Porciúncula vs. SNU Porciúncula) from both respective systems.