Category Archives: UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley has suspended its plans to build a second campus at Richmond Bay because of what it says is its need to address significant budgetary challenges. The decision was conveyed by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to members of the Richmond Community Working Group in a meeting on Thursday evening, according to the university.
Dirks said UC Berkeley was indefinitely suspending plans to build the campus at Richmond Bay, but that the university would continue to explore options for the site “that reflect new priorities for the campus around enrollment growth and housing in the near future,” according to a statement by the university.
The project, known as the global campus, was designed as an alternative to UC Berkeley establishing campuses in other countries as some universities, including New York University, Johns Hopkins University and Carnegie Mellon University, have done in recent years.
… Continue reading »
By Gretchen Kell / UC Berkeley
Berkeley’s Bowles Hall reopens this weekend as a residential college after an 11-year effort by alumni who raised $45 million to restore the aging, castle-like building and return it to its roots as a live-learn community for undergraduates.
Believed to be the nation’s first residential college, Bowles Hall opened in 1929 to male students who for four years would live, eat, study and be mentored there. But by the 1970s, Bowles was a conventional dorm for men. Meal service was cut in 2001, and in 2005 the hall housed only male freshmen. Over the decades, upkeep of Bowles, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, grew too costly for the campus.
“Our life-changing Bowles Hall experience barely existed — the guaranteed four-year residency, sense of community, on-site dining, regular contact with graduate students, alumni and faculty,” says Bob Sayles, a 1952 Berkeley and Bowles Hall alumnus. The ambitious restoration campaign he led culminates Saturday, Aug. 27, in a daylong celebration.
This weekend, Bowles Hall Residential College will greet 183 new undergraduates — half of them women. Until they graduate, they’ll share the iconic hall on Stadium Rim Way with three Berkeley academics, an archaeologist who is a Bowles Hall alumnus, and five graduate students. … Continue reading »
By Yasmin Anwar / Berkeley News
In a sign that taxes can work in the fight against obesity, a new study from the UC Berkeley shows a 21% drop in the drinking of soda and other sugary beverages in Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods after the city levied a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
While Berkeley, the first U.S. city to pass a “soda tax,” saw a substantial decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in the months following implementation of the tax in March 2015, neighboring San Francisco, where a soda tax measure was defeated, and Oakland, saw a 4% increase, according to the study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Low-income communities bear the brunt of the health consequences of obesity and diabetes, so this decline in soda and sugary beverage consumption is very encouraging,” said study senior author Kristine Madsen, an associate professor of public health at UC Berkeley. “We are looking for tools that support people in making healthy choices, and the soda tax appears to be an effective tool.” … Continue reading »
[Editor’s note: Berkeleyside is teaming up with Wildfire to push out crime news notifications through Wildfire’s mobile app. Download the app and enable push notifications to get quick alerts about public safety news, and make sure to follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information.]
With public safety news, speed can be of the essence. That’s why four recent UC Berkeley graduates have created a crime-alert app that lets people share information quickly and easily right from their phones about potentially dangerous situations.
The mobile app, which is free to download, is called Wildfire. It allows anyone to post information from their cell phones about crimes, car crashes, fires and other incidents of concern. For those familiar with the Waze app — where users share real-time traffic info — it’s a similar concept but it’s focused on public safety.
Wildfire launched earlier this year but, now that students are coming back to the UC Berkeley campus for the fall semester, its founders are ramping up efforts to spread the word about its existence.
It’s not just for students. Anyone with a mobile phone can use it, though most of the app’s users — and most of its posts — are in the Berkeley area. The more people who use it to post about incidents, the more robust the app will become.
“There’s literally nothing like it,” said Caroline Winnett, executive director of UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck, which selected Wildfire earlier this summer to work in its startup accelerator as part of its six-month mentorship program. “There is no other app that does what Wildfire is trying to do, and it’s a much-needed solution that can really impact public safety.”
For those who simply want to see what’s happening around them, there’s a map with pins that show the locations of public safety incidents. Those who want to post alerts can easily do so too. The app, which is available for iPhone and Android platforms, sends push notifications to mobile phones so its users can quickly learn about public safety reports. There’s also a feature to allow emergency contacts to receive text alerts about incidents, even if they don’t have the app themselves. … Continue reading »
What’s life like aboard a scientific research vessel plying the California coast deploying robots to unlock important data about climate change?
A team of scientists and engineers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have just set out on such a venture. And they took along lab writer Sarah Yang to document the scientists’ work — and, along the way, to provide answers to burning questions like “how do the scientists keep their coffee mugs from sliding when the boat tips back and forth?” (See photo below to find out.)
The team took off over the weekend on a mission to test updated versions of a robotic float used to measure carbon dynamics in the ocean. … Continue reading »
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced Tuesday he will step down from the position he has held for just over three years, once a successor is found and in place. The university issued a statement about the resignation around 4:20 p.m.
In a letter to the campus community, Dirks said he had come to a personal decision that “the time was right for him to step aside” to “allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us.”
The chancellor enumerated what he views as his key accomplishments while in office, including improving undergraduate education, improving practices relating to sexual harassment, and addressing the university’s structural budget deficit. The university has faced criticism for how it has dealt with sexual harassment on campus, including cases involving faculty.
Dirks concluded: “While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year, and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions, ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.” See Dirks’ full letter below.
When Dirks announced a comprehensive strategic planning process in February to address the university’s deficit, the deficit was projected to be around $150 million dollars in the fiscal year ending in June 2016. … Continue reading »
UC Berkeley is negotiating with a developer to construct a 200-room, 10-story hotel on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Oxford Street.
The university issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project in 2015 and received seven responses, according to Christine Shaff, the communications director for UC’s Real Estate Division. The university narrowed that down to a finalist, with whom it is negotiating, she said. Shaff declined to release the name of the development group.
Cal wants a developer to build a single structure that abuts University and Oxford, stands 115 feet high and has about 200 rooms, according to the RFP. The university has requested the structure be an “upscale, full service or select-service hotel” with a public lobby, dining facility, meeting space and recreational space. The design and inclusion of those elements would depend, of course, on the design the development group comes up with, according to the documents. … Continue reading »
After 15 months of negotiations, UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union (BSU) and Chancellor Nicholas Dirks reached an agreement to establish a new Black resource center on campus that will be named after Fannie Lou Hamer, the famed voting and civil rights activist.
The BSU, which worked with the Afrikan Black Coalition, hopes that the new suite of rooms in the Hearst Field Annex off Bancroft Avenue and right behind Sproul Hall will create a place where the Black community can feel safe and thrive and will also make the campus feel more inclusive. Members also hope securing this space symbolizes what’s in store for the future.
“Black students have reported multiple times through campus climate surveys that they feel isolated and disrespected on campus regularly,” said Gabrielle Shuman who served as the chair of the Black Student Union from 2014-15. “A primary reason for this is the lack of a critical mass of Black students at the university and a lack of physical space where students can be themselves and feel as though they are understood by those around them. This is exactly what the Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center aims to change.” … Continue reading »
Police are looking for a man who touched a female student on the UC Berkeley campus “inappropriately” Wednesday.
UCPD has said the man, who appeared 50-60 years old, touched the 20-year-old when she was walking through Upper Sproul Plaza at 11:50 a.m. No further detail about the battery was provided.
The man then left the area walking north toward Dwinelle Plaza.
The University of California Police Department looked for the man but could not find him. … Continue reading »
For the first time since 1968, UC Berkeley has banned dog owners from walking their dogs without a leash on the Cal campus, according to the university.
Citing “a number” of incidents of “dog-related fights, including one where “a service dog was threatened by an off-leash dog,” the new policy aims to prevent future episodes, and allow service dogs to do their jobs without distraction, UC spokeswoman Claire Holmes said in an emailed statement. The new policy, which also is “more aligned with the Berkeley Municipal Code for dogs,” went into effect Aug. 1.
Holmes’ statement said there have been seven dog biting incidents since Jan. 1, 2015, but, in a follow-up email, said she was not able to make details of the incidents available by publication time (for example, the number that involved off-leash dogs).
UC Berkeley disability compliance officer Derek Coates also expressed concern after being “confronted by a number of dogs who were off-leash while on campus,” and said that he “contacted and worked with UCPD to require that dogs on campus be leashed.”
In a voicemail message, UC Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Reich echoed the safety concerns. … Continue reading »
Hundreds of people gathered at UC Berkeley this weekend to explore veganism, including the belief that humans are herbivores, not carnivores or omnivores.
The list of topics throughout the three-day World Vegan Summit & Expo was exhaustive and included “the ethics and morality of eating animals, veganic gardening, health crises in communities of color, vegan dogs and cats, animals in western culture, ayurvedic anti-aging secrets, veganism and intersectionality, supporting vegan restaurants and businesses, healthy and happy vegan children animals and capitalism, Mexican culture and veganism, and what’s wrong with the big “animal welfare” organizations,” according to a press release.
On Friday, the event sponsored a “Vegan (Because We Care) Walk” from People’s Park to the Cal campus.
Ted Friedman took these photos. … Continue reading »
A former UC Berkeley staffer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to repay the nearly $400,000 embezzled from the educational program she worked for, federal prosecutors and the FBI said.
DeSondra Michell Ward admitted in February to stealing $389,948.57 while working at the university’s Lawrence Hall of Science, and was sentenced Tuesday in Oakland by district magistrate Jeffrey White.
As part of the plea deal, Ward admitted to gaming the university’s travel system (an Expedia- or Priceline-like online travel booking website) to buy airplane tickets for friends, family, and herself — for personal purposes — as well as selling the tickets for a profit to others, according to a statement from federal prosecutor Brian Stretch and FBI special agent John Bennett. … Continue reading »
After chunks of concrete fell from under the bleachers of Edwards Stadium causing safety concerns, UC Berkeley has closed part of the building and initiated plans to install a temporary fix for the aging facility, according to a university official. Cal employees with offices under the bleachers have been ordered to vacate by today, Thursday.
Starting Monday July 25, construction will begin on nets designed to catch any further falling concrete — the chunks being the result of years of water damage, real-estate division spokeswoman Christine Shaff told Berkeleyside.
“The netting installation should start next week, and in preparation for the installation we’re moving equipment and staff out of the tunnel,” she said.
Rated “poor” by the university’s Seismic Action Plan for Facilities (SAFER) — meaning expected to sustain “significant” damage that will have deadly consequences in case of a severe earthquake — the stadium is on the university’s list of structures to receive seismic retrofitting. But the university does not currently have the funding necessary to complete the fix.
Falling blocks of concrete and the water damage that has caused them are a distinct, unrelated problem from the potentially life-threatening susceptibility to earthquakes, Shaff said. … Continue reading »