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Charter Day celebration highlights Berkeley’s Nobel tradition

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

 

mcfadden

Nobel Laureate Daniel McFadden gives the keynote address.
Peg Skorpinski photo

04 April 2001 | The campus took stock of its 133 years — and its 17 Berkeley Nobel prize winners — in a March 23 celebration marking the University of California’s founding in 1868.

The campus’s Nobel tradition was showcased in a slideshow on Berkeley’s Nobel winners, beginning with physicist Ernest Lawrence in 1939.

Highlighting the Charter Day ceremony in Zellerbach Auditorium was a keynote speech by Berkeley’s latest Nobelist, Economics Professor Daniel McFadden, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Economics. McFadden discussed his personal background, affirmative action, the state’s electricity crisis and why he decided to donate his Nobel winnings to charity.

“I grew up on a farm deep in rural North Carolina, with lots of books and no electricity, much like life in California today,” said McFadden, Berkeley’s 17th laureate. “My parents taught me to lead a modest life and instructed me that success created an obligation to share with those less lucky. That is why Beverlee and I gave the Nobel Prize money to a charitable foundation rather than spend it on ourselves.” The McFaddens donated the funds to the East Bay Community Foundation, to help support local nonprofit education and arts programs.

An applied economist whose mathematical models have been used to predict consumer choices, McFadden addressed the state’s electricity crisis. “There are no painless ways to deal with the electricity crisis, but Sacramento’s policy of disguising the real cost of electricity by freezing retail prices, and covering the difference through government subsidies, is dangerously misguided,” he said.

This policy, he said, “is worse than just inefficient; it puts the whole California economy at risk.”

Earlier in the ceremony, Chancellor Berdahl presented two public services awards to distinguished campus alumni.

“One ultimate measure of the university’s success is the quality of its graduates and how they use their Berkeley education to better the world around them,” Berdahl said in a preamble to the awards presentation.

The full text of Daniel McFadden’s keynote address and other news from Charter Day may be found on the campus news Web site at http://www.berkeley.edu/news
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