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Berkeley grad from Class of '32 gives millions to the campus he loves 'heart and soul'
Col. Charles Travers' $16-million gift earmarked for political science and Cal athletics

04 May 2005


Col. Charles T. Travers (Michael B. Woolsey photo)
Alumnus and longtime campus supporter Col. Charles T. Travers has committed $12 million to endow the Department of Political Science, which has been renamed in honor of Travers and his late wife, Louise, who died in 1995.

The gift was officially announced on Wednesday, May 4, during a dedication ceremony naming the department as the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science. Travers, 94, graduated from Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1932. He met his wife, also a political science major, in a poli sci class. In addition, several family members are Berkeley alumni. "In my heart and soul I love this university," Travers said, "and I wanted to do something to help it over the long term."

The $12-million endowment to the department - the largest endowed gift from an individual in campus history - will help fund undergraduate scholarships, create graduate student fellowships, and support the recruitment and retention of talented faculty.

"I commend Charles on his extraordinary vision in recognizing that the future excellence of critical programs in the social sciences will be dependent upon the generosity of alumni and friends of the university," said George Breslauer, dean of social sciences in the College of Letters and Science.

"Endowments, such as this one, will provide for generations of future students and ensure the continued excellence of our department. Given the unprecedented nature of the gift, we thought it befitting to name the department in honor of Charles and Louise Travers."

Robert Price, associate vice chancellor for research and a political science professor, added: "This gift will provide critical resources toward graduate fellowships, allowing us to compete for the very best students and making it possible to maintain the political science department's stature as one of the top programs in the U.S."

Travers, an ardent fan of the football team who has attended more than 82 Cal-Stanford Big Games, also pledged $4 million to support the Cal football program. That funding will expand the scope and impact of the student study center, build a student-athlete scholarship endowment, and enhance the team's video capabilities.

"Col. Travers' support and unwavering commitment have been paramount to the growth and development of the football program," said Sandy Barbour, director of athletics. "He was one of the first donors to establish an endowed scholarship, and his generous spirit has inspired others to give."

Travers, a retired U.S. Army colonel, later pursued a career with BHP Minerals International, Inc. (later a subsidiary of General Electric); he retired as vice president of land development. A resident of Greenbrae, Travers is a past president and 50-year member of the Commonwealth Club of California.

Travers has previously donated $2.6 million to the political science department and to Cal athletics. He has funded the political science department's Colonel Charles T. and Louise H. Travers Program in Ethics & Accountability in Government, undergraduate student scholarships, and renovation of a departmental conference room. He has also provided funds for football scholarships, athletic-facility renovation, and software and video equipment that the team uses to review games and the performance of individual players.

For more than four decades, Berkeley's political science department has ranked among the top departments in that field in the United States, according to numerous surveys (including a National Research Council survey of graduate programs). Over the past 20 years the department's Ph.D.s have won more "best dissertation" prizes from the American Political Science Association than have the graduates of any other political science department in the country.