Charter Ceremony Highlights Cal Day Festivities

by Marie Felde

Cal Day this year treated almost everybody to more than they had bargained for.

The weather wasn't just agreeable, it was glorious.

The 1,000 seats set up for the 128th Charter Day ceremonies were filled and it wound up standing-room only.

Robert McNamara delivered the Charter Day address and got a standing ovation when he said if it takes higher taxes to keep California's public education strong, then Californians should pay them.

And students from Adams Middle School in Richmond who came to Cal Day got extra credit from their eighth-grade teacher.

In all, campus organizers estimated the Saturday crowd at between 35,000 and 40,000, making it one of the largest crowds ever for a campus open house.

A survey of visitors found they were drawn to Cal Day for various reasons--to watch the football team practice, to tour the residence halls, to watch the Native American pow wow or to learn how to enroll here.

One visitor simply listed "sisterhood," as her reason. Among the activities of the day was the "Empowering Women of Color Conference."

This was the first year that Charter Day, celebrating the birthday of the university, was combined with the open house and it appeared to be a complete success.

Staged outdoors on Dwinelle Plaza, some 1,500 visitors and special guests attended the traditional event that began with a grand procession of faculty in regalia, alumni with banners and staff members filing in to the music of the Cal Band.

Chancellor Tien welcomed everyone and used the occasion to bestow the Walter A. Haas International Award to James C.Y. Soong, governor of the Taiwan Provincial Government.

The Haas award is given to a former international student at Berkeley who has made outstanding contributions to his country. Soong is a leader in the ruling Nationalist Party of Taiwan and a key adviser to President Li Teng-hui.

"He is helping to lead his nation of 21 million people to embrace democratic principles," said Tien as he presented Soong the award.

Soong, whose visit to Berkeley was recorded by several news crews from Taiwan and the local Asian press, said he holds fond memories of his years in Berkeley. He graduated with a MA degree in political science in 1967.

He also noted that he met his wife, Viola, in Berkeley and that she gave birth to their son, Allen, at Alta Bates Hospital. "Next month, Allen will graduate from the Haas School of Business with his MBA degree," said the governor.

In his remarks, Soong said many of Taiwan's younger generation of leaders also received their educations in the United States.

"I firmly believe the greatest postwar contribution of the U.S." he said, is not Hollywood films or Silicon Valley computers, "but the education system made so openly accessible to students and researchers around the world."

The day's keynote speaker, former Defense Secretary McNamara, also spoke of the value of education and urged Californians to continue to support public education.

He noted that for his $52 in annual fees in the 1930s, "Berkeley opened a totally new world to me." McNamara received his BA here in 1937.

The focus of his speech, however, was a call to free the world of nuclear weapons and from the "totally unacceptable risk of destruction of nations" they bring.

McNamara called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and urged Berkeley--"which prides itself on creating the future"--to take the lead to "put the genie back in the bottle." Professor Marian Diamond, former director of the Lawrence Hall of Science and a world leader in brain research, was also honored at Charter Day as the California Alumni Association's Alumna of the Year.


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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