Richard Atkinson
University of California
President Emeritus

Year Elected


Membership status

Richard C. Atkinson served from 1995-2003 as the seventeenth president of the University of California (UC) system. His eight-year tenure was marked by innovative approaches to admissions and outreach, research initiatives to accelerate the university's contributions to the state's economy, and a challenge to the country's most widely used admissions examination —the SAT—that led to major changes in the way millions of America's youth are tested for college admissions. Before becoming president of the UC system, Atkinson served for fifteen years as chancellor of UC San Diego, where he led that campus’ emergence as one of the leading research universities in the nation. He is a former director of the National Science Foundation and past president of the American Association of American Universities, and he was a long-term member of the faculty at Stanford University. His research in the field of cognitive science and psychology has been concerned with problems of memory and cognition. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Education, and the American Philosophical Society, and a mountain in Antarctica has been named in his honor.

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