University of California at Berkeley

Reaching Out to Berkeley's Friends

The Campus Community Must Gain a Heightened Sensitivity to Its Supporters, Benefactors, Says Vice Chancellor Mote

 by Fernando Quintero

The closing of the millennium signals the dawn of a new era for Berkeley. Despite the state's recent period of economic hardship, the campus has emerged as a national and world leader in higher education and research. And Chancellor Tien, who was largely responsible for the campus weathering such troubled times, has announced plans to step down as chancellor by the end of next June.

Looking ahead, Dan Mote, vice chancellor for University Relations, shares his thoughts on what the future holds for the campus, its alumni and friends.

Q: From a development and public affairs perspective, what kinds of changes are in store for the campus?

A: The relationship the campus has maintained with its alumni and friends will have to shift over time. We need to become more responsive, receptive and interested in reaching out to our alumni and friends. Berkeley has an exceptional group of loyal alumni and supporters, but as an institution, we have not focused on developing a strong relationship with them.

For the long term, it is essential for the campus to improve in this area. Our early efforts have shown that they are eager for this cultural change to occur, and as a consequence, will support us in our endeavor.

Q: How do you envision this "cultural change" taking place?

A: Fundamentally, it has to do with how individual units view and react to our external communities. It has almost nothing to do with campus units becoming development-oriented. There's been some confusion over that. It's more about faculty, staff and students having more of our external community in mind as they go about their work day.

For example, many people donate money for scholarships.These people, by and large, would really love to hear from some of the students who receive their scholarships. Two sentences once a year isn't much to ask. Or inviting people to hear lectures given by faculty members, especially from departments they have supported, would be a good idea. Some units have been very good about this, but it has not been a part of our campus culture. Athletics has a long history of involving its supporters in such ways. But I believe it is time for us to broaden our efforts to establish these kinds of relationships.

Q: Should different approaches be used to reach the various segments of the campus's external community?

A: Berkeley has about 321,000 alumni of whom approximately 165,000 live in the greater Bay Area. We have more alumni who can drive here for a cup of coffee than Stanford has altogether. We're a world-class place with a world-class venue, but we are also a regional university in the eyes of alumni and friends. No other major university has this profile.

Therefore, we have to design our outreach strategies to accommodate the interests of these different populations. The way we deal with our Bay Area alumni and friends will be different than the way we deal with our friends in Los Angeles or on the East Coast or in Asia.

Q: Have any steps been taken so far to improve relationships with alumni and university supporters?

A: We've done several things in this direction, especially in the last few years. We've developed Berkeley Magazine in an effort to involve the external community. This is the first print product in the history of the campus that reaches nearly all of our alumni and friends. We developed the Chancellor's Forum and Cal Day to bring people to the campus and involved them in our academic programs. These are a couple of examples of different initiatives focused on reaching out.

Q: What is the development office doing to expand the campus's relationship with the external community?

A: We're concentrating on developing our annual programs, which reach out on an annual basis to donors and friends to support the campus. Normally these are smaller gifts, but they increase the donor's involvement with us. Essentially, private gift fund-raising is the principal area where we can make a significant change in the financial well-being of the campus.

Every private gift that comes to this campus during the campaign period is included as part of our overall fund-raising total gifts. All units are involved. This is an inclusive, not an exclusive, process. If we're going to have a cultural shift on this campus, everyone has to get involved and feel that they're a significant part of the effort. In fact, they are.

Q: In light of the increased emphasis on private fund raising, is there a redefinition taking place of what a public university is?

A: We are a public university, and will remain a public university. We are talking about increasing our family of alumni and supporters, and improving our relationship with each other, and of course, increasing their support for us.

Our responsibilities to educate and serve the citizens of our state will be enhanced substantially by this effort.


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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