Shirley Dean Balances Dual Roles as the Newly Elected Mayor of the
City of Berkeley and University Staff Member
by Fernando Quintero She has given up cooking, season opera tickets and a few hours of sleep.
She cut her hours at the Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools in half and just about doubled the amount of appointments in her work and social calendars.
For Shirley Dean, being both mayor of Berkeley and a campus staff member has become a sink-or-swim lesson in time management.
"Basically, you have to strip out the non-essentials," said Dean from her visibly aged but clean fifth-floor City Hall office.
"It's hard for me to say no, and everyone wants a part of your time. Many times, there just are not enough hours in the day. I'm still learning how to best manage my time."
Dean, who recently completed her first 100 days in office, gave herself a passing grade in fulfilling her obligations to the city and the university.
Since she took office after a runoff with Don Jelinek in December, Dean said she has accomplished a number of important tasks including the formation of a Student Advisory Committee and a collaborative town-gown South Berkeley Committee to plan for area revitalization.
On campus, she continues her budgeting and student outreach work for admissions and is helping bring a new computerized marketing and recruitment system online.
"It's fun to have the mayor in our office," said Bob Laird, admissions director.
"I think everyone here feels a sense of pride about that. She's one of the hardest working people I know, and, despite her new responsibility, she has clearly maintained her perspective and sense of balance."
Laird added, however, that having the highest official in the city for an employee poses "a curious dilemma."
Dean admits she sometimes has to remind herself which role she is playing "when I'm a UC employee and when I'm mayor," she said.
"I have a different relationship with the chancellor when I'm one or the other. I feel comfortable with my dual roles so far."
A Berkeley alumna and former Berkeley city councilwoman, Dean has strong allegiances to both the city and the university.
"I met my husband when we were undergraduates. He borrowed my notes in sociology class. My son went to Cal. I'm a true blue and gold," she said.
"I've always found the campus an exciting place. It's what gives the city real meaning. This, however, can bring about certain problems. I want to be a proponent for solutions to those problems."
At the top of her town-gown to-do list is ensuring the success of People's Park.
"The chancellor has said he wants to keep it open space as a place that students, families and neighborhood residents can enjoy. (The Berkeley City Council) unanimously agreed with him in a meeting last night," said Dean. "It's important to the city and important to the university."
Another important accomplishment for Dean has been the formulation of a citywide clean-up campaign that includes the campus and Southside. Campus officials have been supportive of city efforts to revitalize the Southside area, Dean added.
First and foremost on Dean's agenda is balancing the city's budget, which faces a nearly $3 million deficit. A recently released city manager's budget proposal calls for cutting 39 city staff positions and restructuring city departments.