Category Archives: UC Berkeley

Chancellor Dirks warns of UC Berkeley’s unsustainable structural deficit

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks at Uncharted 2015. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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In a message to the UC Berkeley community at 8 a.m. today, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks warned about the consequences of “a substantial and growing structural deficit,” which he termed unsustainable.

The strong statement on the deficit announced a comprehensive strategic planning process, with a detailed reexamination of all discretionary expenditures, including athletics and capital costs. Formerly sacrosanct areas, including the number of academic departments, will be included in the review.

“We are fighting to maintain our excellence against those who might equate ‘public’ with mediocrity,” Dirks said in the statement. “What we are engaged in here is a fundamental defense of the concept of the public university, a concept that we must reinvent in order to preserve.”

According to Berkeley campus sources, the deficit this fiscal year is projected to be around 6% of the operating budget, around $150 million. The sources point to Berkeley being heavily tuition-dependent, compared to some UC campuses that have medical centers with high revenues.

Student tuition and fees make up about 30% of total campus revenues — compared to state support of 13% of revenues. In the 1980s, about half of Berkeley’s funding came from the state. Undergraduate tuition rates, the focus of vehement student protests in recent years, have not risen for the past five years and under Governor Jerry Brown’s plan, will not increase until 2017-18.

“Because this deficit does not reflect a short-term dip in funding,” Dirks’ message said, “but a ‘new normal’ era of reduced state support, responding to this deficit requires that we take a long-term view. We must focus not only on the immediate challenge, but also on the deeper task of enhancing our institution’s long-term sustainability and self-reliance.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
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The hot ticket in downtown Berkeley on the evening of Thursday Jan. 28 was arguably the gala opening party for the new BAMPFA, but if you had seen the several-hundred strong line of people snaking down Center Street and round the corner along Shattuck between 5 and 7 p.m., waiting to get into the NextSpace building, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there was an even hotter event going on.

More than 3,000 people signed up to attend the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, according to Ben Hamlin, co-founder and CEO of Localwise, the Berkeley-based job community which organized the first-of-its kind event. And of those, more than 1,000 showed up. The fair, which was focused on promoting diversity in tech, was co-hosted by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. Other partners included 16 nonprofits, including the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinas in Tech, Telegraph Academy, Lesbians who Tech, Code Berkeley and the Level Playing Field Institute. (See the full list of partners).

The overwhelming response to the fair appeared to indicate the need for more opportunities for job-seekers to meet with young companies who are recruiting. Many attendees came from nearby UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College, but others had traveled from further afield, including from more far-flung colleges. For still others, their student days were far behind them. And it was a diverse crowd who formed lines and patiently waited to speak with potential employers inside NextSpace’s ground-floor atrium. … Continue reading »

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A former Cal librarian’s recipe for life: bake, swim, give

Photo: Brittany Kirstin
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By Gretchen Kell / Berkeley News

Before sunrise, swimmers begin arriving at UC Berkeley’s Hearst Pool for workouts, their fins, goggles and caps in tow. Like 67-year-old David Kessler, many are diehard swimmers conditioned to slip out of bed and into the cold water without much thought. But Kessler’s morning ritual begins much earlier, around 5 a.m., in his kitchen in the Oakland hills.

There, as he has for about 40 years, he assembles assorted sandwiches on his homemade bread and packs them in brown paper lunch bags with “two cookies, that’s standard,” says Kessler. Then, he totes to the pool an average of 12 lunches, and occasionally more than twice as many, in large canvas bags.

The student lifeguards, who often struggle mightily to arrive for 6 a.m. shifts, are grateful for Kessler, who never fails to personally greet them and hand out the bags, marked with a “Made in David’s Kitchen” stamp, before he swims. He strives to know their names, who eats meat, prefers peanut butter, has food allergies or is lactose-intolerant or vegetarian. … Continue reading »

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Partying at UC Berkeley may have just gotten harder

A large crowd of Halloween revelers gathered on Channing Way, near Piedmont Avenue, in Berkeley, late Saturday. Photo: David Yee
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Citing a riot on Halloween and three alcohol-related deaths near the UC Berkeley campus in recent years, Berkeley officials approved new rules Tuesday night to address rowdy parties and other problems associated with group housing widely used by students.

About 15 Cal students, including representatives from governance group the Associated Students of the University of California, asked the Berkeley City Council to amend or vote down the proposal. They said it unfairly targets students, could lead to more evictions, and was unnecessary because they can regulate themselves.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage about drinking at Cal.

Miranda Hernandez, director of Greek affairs for an ASUC senator, told council the new rules would inappropriately micromanage students in their bedrooms, and would put students “at greater risk” because they would no longer want to call police and fire services for help, for “fear that they will be labeled a public nuisance.” She said there could be fewer reports and more deaths “because we will be afraid to call.”

About as many older Southside neighbors — some of whom described themselves as “year-round residents” — pleaded with council to adopt the new rules, citing frequent issues with noise, trash, loud music and the heavy use of the city’s first responders who are called to address those problems.

“Our community pays the price night after night, week after week, endangering our citizens and using precious public safety resources,” longtime resident Phil Bokovoy told council. “There is no will for the university to solve the problem.” … Continue reading »

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The lowdown: Berkeley council on noisy Southside parties, Black Lives Matter protests, the smoking age, more

2020 Vision Symposium, Oct. 11, Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Noisy parties around UC Berkeley, an analysis of the police response to the December 2014 Black Lives Matter protests, and a proposal to raise the smoking age to 21: It’s all up for discussion at Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting.

Scroll down to see what else is on the agenda, how to follow the action, and how to chime in on Twitter. … Continue reading »

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Amazon opens new store on UC Berkeley campus

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Amazon opened a sleek, modern, brick-and-mortar store on the UC Berkeley campus Thursday and it promises to ease package delivery and return for students, faculty, staff and the community.

But Amazon hopes the store, located in the refurbished Martin Luther King Jr. building facing Sproul Plaza, will be more than that. There are couches and chairs scattered around the 3,500-square-foot space, as well as a large television screen for students to watch movies or play video games. A large table holds Kindle e-readers, Fire Tablets and Fire TV devices, creating “an interactive Amazon device experience,” according to a press release.

The idea is to be such an inviting environment that students “turn into lifelong customers,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs. … Continue reading »

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Update: Police find car of missing UC Berkeley student

Shuqin Zhang. Photo: BPD
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Update, Jan. 10, 8:30 a.m. Berkeley police are reporting that, during their search for missing student Shuqin Zhang, “several items identified as belonging to Shuqin were located on the cliff above the ocean.” This was by the Point Reyes lighthouse near where the 22-year-old’s car was found Saturday.

Update, Jan. 9, 3:04 p.m. Berkeley police released an update regarding Shuqin Zhang, the 22-year-old who was classified as “missing and at risk” Friday.

Early Saturday morning, Zhang’s vehicle was found at Point Reyes near the lighthouse area, according to BPD. The vehicle was unoccupied and search efforts are underway. The National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Marin County Search and Rescue are looking for Zhang. Berkeley police investigators are on scene and coordinating with those agencies. … Continue reading »

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Mark Twain commemorative coin will help UC Berkeley

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Mark Twain is a gift that keeps on giving to UC Berkeley.

In October, UC Press published the third volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The first volume, which ran to 760 pages, was a runaway bestseller with more than 275, 000 copies in print. It came out in 2010 – 100 years after Twain’s death (The author, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, had ordered it not to be published until 100 years after his death).

Now the U.S. Mint is about to issue a Mark Twain commemorative coin in gold and silver, and a portion of the sales – which could reach $1 million – will go to the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Master craftsman, Zen priest Paul Discoe puts his touch on new Berkeley Art Museum

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By Kathleen Maclay / Berkeley News

When the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive reopens at its new downtown location on Jan. 31, the University of California, Berkeley, visual arts center will feature wooden furnishings revived from a previous life by a local master craftsman, ordained Zen Buddhist priest and designer of Buddhist temples.

“I like trees of all kinds. I like to grow them, trim them, chop them and make wonderful new things with them,” says Paul Discoe, an artisan and student of Japanese culture. Before his meditative work at BAMPFA, he designed the famed Zen centers in Tassajara and Green Gulch, California, as well as temples and even a temple-inspired home for tech mogul and Oracle chief Larry Ellison. … Continue reading »

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Alcohol, fall from height likely contributed to Berkeley fraternity death

A young man was found dead Saturday at Pi Kappa Phi. Image: Google Maps
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The Berkeley Police Department has released the identity of the young man who was found dead at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house on Channing Way on Dec. 19. They also revealed that he likely fell from a “significant” height before his death, and that alcohol appears to have been a contributing factor.

The deceased was Jeffrey Thomas Engler, 22, from San Leandro. Engler, who was enrolled at Laney College, and had formerly attended UC Berkeley, was a member of Pi Kappa Phi, but did not live at the fraternity, according to a statement released by BPD at around 4:15 p.m. Monday. Engler was at the house attending a small holiday party, they said.

The release continues: “Based on the preliminary investigation it appears he fell from a significant height prior to his death. There are no indications of foul play, and alcohol appears to have played a factor in his death. The cause of death will be determined by the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau.” The police investigation is ongoing. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Young man found dead at Berkeley fraternity

A young man was found dead Saturday at Pi Kappa Phi. Image: Google Maps
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Police responded to a Berkeley fraternity Saturday morning after receiving a report of a young man found unresponsive there.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said police were called to the 2900 block of Channing Way, between Prospect and Warring streets, just before 7:30 a.m., to investigate the death. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Remembering Seymour Chatman, professor emeritus of rhetoric and film at UC Berkeley

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Seymour Benjamin Chatman, Professor Emeritus of Rhetoric and Film at the University of California, Berkeley passed away on Nov.4, 2015 at his home in Berkeley with his devoted wife Barbara, daughter Jennifer, and friend Carl by his side. He was 87.

Seymour was born on Aug. 30, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan, to William B. and Betty Davis Chatman. He attended Central High School. Seymour was part of a large extended family in the local Jewish community, though his immediate family … Continue reading »

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Construction to begin on 8-story building in downtown

Berkeley Way West as seen from Shattuck Avenue. Photo: WRNS Studio/UC Berkeley
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By Yasmin Anwar/Berkeley News

Construction is scheduled to begin this month on an 8-story complex in downtown Berkeley to house the campus’ Graduate School of Education, School of Public Health and the Department of Psychology.

The 320,000-square-foot building at Berkeley Way and Shattuck Avenue will replace Tolman Hall, built in 1965, which has been deemed seismically unsafe and will be demolished once the new building opens in fall 2017. Tolman Hall currently houses the Graduate School of Education in one wing, and the psychology department in the other. The School of Public Health is headquartered in University Hall.

Read more on the Berkeley Way West project on Berkeleyside.

Dubbed Berkeley Way West, the project will include more than 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and classrooms, offices, open workstations and collaborative space on the floors above. A courtyard on the east side of the building will connect to a pedestrian walkway at the adjacent Energy Biosciences Building. The total cost for the project is estimated to be around $150 million, and will be paid for with private and state funding. … Continue reading »

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