New UC Berkeley Chancellor Says School Needs To Rely Less On State, More On Donors

New University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said today that the university will need to rely more on philanthropy for funding but promised that it won’t become more privatized.

Dirks, who formerly was executive vice president at Columbia University in New York City and replaced former Chancellor Robert Birgeneau this summer, said the university only gets about 12 percent of its funding from the state, down from 30 percent about ten years ago and down from 50 percent in the more distant past.

Dirks said the university has had to scramble to find funding from other sources but he said “there’s no shift in the way the people in this university conceive of it being a public university and in the centrality of its mission of serving the public.”

Dirks said the university remains committed to providing an accessible and affordable education to students and “to make the world a better place.”

He dismissed privatization as “the ‘p’ word.”

Talking to reporters at a news conference marking the beginning of the academic year, Dirks said when he was considering coming to UC Berkeley from Columbia he wondered if “it would be a good move for anyone” because of the state’s decreased financial support for the university.

But he said, “I was gratified to find out that the university was not just alive and well but actually was prospering” due to getting funding from other sources.

Dirks said when California voters approved a tax increase last November to better fund education and other programs it was “a great mandate” for the university and helped stabilize its funding.

He said that because UC Berkeley is consistently rated as one of the top universities in the world “it’s like coming to Mecca” to be its chancellor.

Referring to the nicknames for New York City and the university, Dirks joked, “I’ve given up the Big Apple for the Golden Bear.”

Dirks said one of his priorities is improving the quality of the college experience for the university’s undergraduates.

Vice provost Catherine Koshland said one of the programs aimed at undergraduates is “common good” courses in areas that students need in order to graduate in areas such as reading and composition, math and science and foreign languages.

Another new program, Koshland said, is “Berkeley 4.0,” which she said helps prepare students for a future in which what they know is less important than how they think, learn and discover on their own.

She said three important concepts anchor the university’s vision for the future: mentoring, teaching and learning and academic support.

Maura Nolan, an associate English professor who is director of the Berkeley Connect program said mentoring will include creating an “intellectual community” of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and alumni.

Nolan said the program “increases meaningful interaction between faculty and students so undergraduates get the most out of UC Berkeley.”

Anne De Luca, associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment, said another new program is CalCentral, which provides a unified and personalized single sign-on experience for students to email and have access to calendars, documents and class collaboration spaces as well as links to important campus services and resources.
De Luca said CalCentral will be a pilot program for 4,000 students this year and will be expanded to all students next year.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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