by Marie Felde
Younger faculty who will carry Berkeley's reputation of excellence into the next century will be the beneficiaries of a newly established fund for faculty research.
Seeing the need to support and encourage young faculty in the core disciplines, Mr. and Mrs. F. Warren Hellman have established the Hellman Family Fund for Faculty Research.
Supported by a $5 million fund, the new program is designated exclusively for assistant professors in the natural and physical sciences, engineering, the humanities and arts, and the social sciences.
With declines in state funding, private faculty research funds are important support in helping to attract and retain the nation's very best young professors and researchers.
Chancellor Tien, who set continued excellence in Berkeley's faculty as a top priority, said the Hellman Family Fund is a great boost.
"The Hellman family's generous support will strengthen Berkeley's position when we compete for the brightest, most talented young faculty," said Tien. He added that it is also an investment in one of its most valuable assets--the curiosity and vision of its faculty.
Awards from the fund will not replace state funded faculty salaries, but they will allow the university to supplement often costly start-up funds for research and assist existing faculty members' on-going research.
It is estimated that approximately $250,000 in grants, indexed to inflation, will be available each year to fund the Hellman Foundation Fellows.
This support comes at a time when government research funding for the sciences is shrinking. Funding for the liberal arts is already extremely limited.
Warren Hellman is long-time supporter of Berkeley whose family has deep ties to the university. He received his BA in humanities from Berkeley in 1955. His father, uncles, sisters, son and daughter also attended.
He is a partner in Hellman and Friedman, a private investment banking firm specializing in securities brokering.
With three rounds of early retirements reducing Berkeley faculty ranks by one-third, many senior scholars are being replaced with top junior faculty.
So far, the campus has had great success in attracting its first-choice candidates, with 80 percent of those offered positions this fall accepting.
New faculty members said they chose Berkeley over other offers because of the high caliber of its faculty and its students. But a new report by the University of California Office of the President released in October found that recruiting and retaining top faculty will become increasingly difficult if the system's economic picture doesn't improve.
With the Hellman Family Fund for Faculty Research launching a new era of private support for the university's faculty, Tien said he is confident Berkeley will continue to draw the best faculty. And that, he said, will assure Berkeley will continue to attract the very top students as well.