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Honoring those we've lost
Campus to gather Tuesday for annual memorial, Berdahl's last event as Berkeley chancellor

16 September 2004


Chancellor Berdahl presiding over the 2003 Campus Memorial. (Jonathan King photo)

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Berkeley campus community will pause to honor more than 60 of its own — among them faculty and emeriti, undergraduates, staff and staff retirees — who have died over the past year. The third annual campuswide memorial, which will be held from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. at the flagpole west of California Hall, will include remarks from Robert Berdahl, in what will be his last official event as chancellor. English Professor Robert Hass will share poetry by Professor Emeritus Czeslaw Milosz, a Nobel laureate, who died in August. As in past years, there will be music and a reading of the names of the deceased.

“This will be the third year that we’ve paused in this way to honor the memory of the deceased and mark our loss of these members of our community,” says Berdahl. “Each time it’s been a beautiful and moving experience to share together. I encourage everyone to attend.”

The first campuswide memorial was organized in September 2002, on the recommendation of a working group that Berdahl appointed to re-examine the campus’s response to deaths.

Associate Chancellor John Cummins, who co-chaired that effort, notes that the memorial service, which has now become an annual tradition, was “a very good example of the chancellor putting into practice one of his top priorities, which was to build a stronger sense of community on the campus. It reflects his own humanity and sensitivity to such matters, which has been deeply appreciated by many.”

The Berkeley campus also has a website designed to facilitate a timely, thorough, and compassionate response to campus deaths. Supervisors charged with reporting the death of a campus employee are encouraged to use its checklists and e-mail links to cover the appropriate administrative bases; co-workers and family members will find resources there, as well.

In a CalMessage distributed electronically last week, Berdahl drew particular attention to the “virtual memorial” section of the website, where any member of the campus community may create a tribute to a colleague, family member, or friend (see the section titled “Additional Features and Important Information”). The site will soon include a checklist tailored to family members dealing with the death of a loved one.