Carol Christ: Using Change to Advantage
In anticipation of the upcoming inauguration April 24 of Robert M. Berdahl as the eighth chancellor at Berkeley, this is the first in a series of conversations on the topic Higher Education in the 21st Century, the inaugural theme.
by Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
Carol Christ, the vice chancellor and provost since 1994, recently received the new title of executive vice chancellor and provost. She joined Berkeley in 1970 as an assistant professor of English. After chairing the English Department for three years, she was appointed dean of humanities in 1988 and provost and dean, College of Letters and Science, in 1990.
Q: In what directions is the campus moving?
A: First, let me describe the major changes Ive seen at Berkeley in just the past decade.
We entered the 1990s as a public institution. We will enter the 21st century as a new kind of public/private hybrid. There will be an increasing similarity between public and private universities. How do we sustain our identity as a public institution in this environment?
Other changes in the past decade:
Q: What are the most important issues facing higher education in the next decade?
Q: How is the library changing?
A: The libraries of the future will be very different from the libraries of the present. Even with substantial budget increases, no library can keep pace with its increasing costs. Access will replace possession. We will have to develop cooperative collection agreements with other libraries and work hard on delivery systems so that whatever information resources a faculty member wants are not more than 24 hours away. There will be revolutionary changes in forms of scholarly communication.
Q: What is the most unexpected change you have seen since 1970?
A: The explosion and miniaturization of information technology. When I taught my first freshman composition class in 1970, I had a student write a paper saying that portable calculators, which had just come on the market and were very big and expensive, would soon cost $5-$10 and be very small. I thought this was ridiculous!
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