Alum Rock University

Alum Rock University (ARU) is a private, not-for-profit, and nonsectarian research university, founded in 2015. Located in Alum Rock Park on the east side of San Jose, California, the campus lies on over 700 acres of forested land that offer access to 15 miles of hills and trails. Although being California’s newest private university, ARU has established itself as one of world’s most prestigious institutions for earth science.


Alum Rock University was founded by members of the San Jose State men’s cross country team in the fall of 2015 during a training run in Alum Rock Park. While running through the park, members of the team came to realize Alum Rock would be a perfect place to establish a university that specialized in the earth sciences and outdoor recreation, such as running, hiking, and rock climbing. With various facilities and recreation areas inside of the park already, members of the team found the park ideal for a college campus to be built. Members presented the idea to the mayor of San Jose, but were rejected due to financial reasons. The mayor told them an endowment of 50 million dollars would be needed to establish the school. Members met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and asked if he would donate the money needed. Zuckerberg agreed and Alum Rock University was established in the spring of 2016.  

ARU initially struggled with enrollment, but it’s location within the Capital of Silicon Valley and California’s first municipal park attracted thousands of prospective students to apply the following months.


Alum Rock University offers both four-year undergraduate and graduate programs in all fields of science within the earth science category. The programs include geography, geology, geophysics, ecology, soil Science, and various atmospheric sciences. They follow a semester system with the fall semester beginning in late August and ending in mid December, while the spring semester begins in late January and ends in late May.

All earth science programs at ARU are taught outdoors and hands-on due to on-campus access to sites such as Penitencia Creek, large rock formations, trees, and other wildlife. Easy access to the outdoors provides professors a way to educate students in a manner that can be applied directly. In 2017, Alum Rock University was named, “Best School To Become An Earth Scientist”. This title was based off of an average GPA of 3.8 for every student in the school. 

Student Life

For the 2016-2017 academic year, Alum Rock University enrolled 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. In September 2016, women comprised 60% of undergraduate students and 65% of graduates. 90% of undergraduates live in on-campus university housing, which are comprised of large tents. 


Alum Rock University currently has 5 varsity sports for both men and women, which include cross country running, mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing, competitive hiking, and rock lifting. The sports teams are officially referred to as the “ARU Rocks”, which is a mascot named after the amount of rocks that are found on campus. All teams are members of the Mountain West Conference that participate in the NCAA’s Division I.


The unofficial motto of Alum Rock University, selected by ARU founding father Ben “The Buffalo” Branagh, is “We Will Rock You!”. The motto was conceived from Queen’s 1997 song, “We Will Rock You”

“ARU! Rock Rock Rock!” is the ARU cheer sometimes yelled at school team’s sporting events


Rock Goldberg, professional rock lifter