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Berkeleyan

Kudos for community servants in our midst

| 07 May 2003

Stan Weisner, a continuing-education specialist at UC Berkeley Extension (he’s a social-welfare specialist who focuses on child and youth issues), also does hands-on work — lots of it — on his own time, to help Oakland youth. A native of East Oakland, a parent of three, a long-time soccer coach, and a PTA officer at Skyline High, Weisner has been involved, since its inception, with the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth, helping to distribute $7 million annually to local youth programs.

Weisner was honored for his contributions to the community, along with other staff, faculty, and students, at the 2003 Chancellor’s Community Service Award ceremony, held May 1 at the Berkeley YWCA.

In his acceptance speech, Weisner thought of opening, like an Oscar recipient, with the words “I want to thank the Academy.” It would not have been inappropriate, he said later. “This is the academy. The fact that UC values research, teaching, and community service — to me, that’s what a first-rate higher-education institution should be doing, acknowledging all three aspects. Especially a land-grant university.”

Also honored with Chancellor’s Community Service Awards were seven Berkeley students, four student groups, and the following faculty and staff:

• Gibor Basri, professor of astronomy, for his commitment to Oakland youth. Basri has been on the board of the I Have a Dream Foundation since 1996. The foundation works with a cohort of Oakland young people from their grade school years to college —doing fundraising and mentoring to help them succeed.

• Dave Farrell, associate university archivist, for his volunteer service to the Albany School District. A member of the Albany Board of Education since 1998, Farrell helped effect a culture shift in the school district at a time when the state of California was threatening to take over because of fiscal mismanagement. He is credited with helping to develop a positive relationship between the school board and top-level administrators, boost teachers’ salaries, improve program quality, and pass the parcel tax that made possible the construction of new facilities for Albany High School and Albany Middle School.

• Richard White, professor of electrical engineering, for his service to the city of Berkeley. White has served in a number of roles that, while short on glamor, help improve life of the city. These include service as a fire commissioner as well as a member of the local disaster council, the task force for underground-utility planning, and projects to improve safety and emergency preparedness in the Claremont Canyon area. In his acceptance speech, White said that his way of being involved is taking a leadership role close to home.

Special service awards went to:

Donald Dahlstein, professor of environmental science, policy and management, who received the Chancellor’s Faculty Award for Service Learning, which honors exemplary uses of service learning in the teaching curriculum. Students in his Urban Environmental Education class polish their teaching skills as they teach students in East Bay high schools and community colleges about the natural world; and

State Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), author of legislation that encouraged the creation of community-service programs on California campuses, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.