(Deborah Stalford photo)
This kind of climate change is welcome
The return of sunshine and blue skies augurs well for Cal Day weekend
| 19 April 2006
There is the merest chance of showers in the forecast for this coming Saturday, which means coordinators of the annual campus open house on April 22 are breathing a little easier. Memories of Cal Day 2003 - when it poured nearly all day, driving thousands of energetic but soggy visitors indoors - are fresh enough that organizers of this year's event have been keeping their fingers crossed for week after rainy week in March and April. (These efforts, it turns out, not only have little effect on global weather patterns but make it difficult to use the photocopier.)
With the prospect of the first truly sunny Saturday of the spring looming large by midweek, the notion of spending the day poking into every stimulating corner of the campus is curiously appealing. Though most of us have been keeping a mental shortlist of things we're dying to do once the d**n rain stops, in reality jumping on them during the first few days of dry weather isn't all that practical: Garden soils aren't yet ready to submit to the pitchfork and spade; picnic tables for the most part remain cloaked in damp and mist; and it's still too chilly for the beach.Which is why Cal Day offers such appeal: Where else will one find such a variety of edifying and amusing events arrayed in one compact area? With, it should be mentioned, a number of snug and warm indoor venues provided just in case.
One of those venues, year after year, hosts the largest number of visitors to participate in any Cal Day event - at the earliest possible hour. Some 5,000 to 6,000 newly admitted freshmen and their families customarily pack the stands at Haas Pavilion at 8:30 a.m. to kick off their Cal Day experience with greetings and remarks by the chancellor, the director of admissions, the vice provost for undergraduate education, and other dignitaries. A number of the students are back for their second visit in less than a month, having already toured the campus at least once during the interval between the online posting of admissions decisions and the first flash of blue and gold on Cal Day morning.
LaDawn Duvall, who manages the campus Visitor Center, notes that upward of 1,000 people took a student-led campus tour between Monday and Friday of last week, a spectacularly large number that she attributes to the annual let's-check-out-Berkeley-over-spring-break impulse that admissions decisions inspire. One visiting parent, waiting at the Visitor Center for a tour to depart, was looking at this year's Cal Day schedule online. To no one in particular, says Duval, he exclaimed aloud, "How does anyone decide what they're going to do on Cal Day? There's too much to choose from!"
And while that's always the case - this year's schedule is nearly 50 pages long, barely enough space in which to fairly list hundreds of events ranging from flintnapping demonstrations to a performance of The Fantastiks - it must be said 2006 offers a particularly generous menu for those drawn to the contemplation of catastrophe. In fact, disasters past and present come in for a level of Cal Day attention this year that might strike a visitor as unseemly if it weren't so clear that most of them relate to the history and ramifications of the San Francisco earthquake and fire, whose 100th anniversary was observed with great fanfare early this week. No fewer than eight quake-related presentations, lectures, and tours are on the Cal Day schedule, ranging from a liquefaction demonstration by Michael Riemer, a faculty expert in soil mechanics, to a "seismic safety" tour of the campus and a "Quakes and Shakes" program for kids at the Lawrence Hall of Science.
The growing crisis of global climate change - a phenomenon whose potential for damage is greater than any quake's - will also be the subject of much discussion on Saturday, both as a complex phenomenon unto itself and as but one of an array of daunting environmental challenges. At one time or another, in one venue or another, Lynne Ingram, associate professor of geology and geophysics and of geography, will discuss how understanding the record of California's rainfall and runoff patterns may improve our ability to deal with coming changes; Professor Jasmina Vujic of nuclear engineering will discuss new technologies for producing hydrogen with nuclear energy; and John Chiang, assistant professor of geography, will address the scientific background to the climate-change debate in a presentation titled, forthrightly enough, "What's Up With Global Climate Change?" In addition, a two-hour presentation about the new Berkeley Institute of the Environment will feature two campus deans - Paul Ludden of natural resources (CNR) and Harrison Fraker of environmental design- along with CNR Professor Inez Fung discussing not just warming but a range of global environmental issues.
(Department of Music photo)
Less sobering, perhaps, than these is the music department's yearlong celebration of its own 100th anniversary, which will be the focus of a daylong series of recitals and presentations. The University Symphony will be playing what the jazz and pop worlds would consider three short sets between 10:30 a.m. and noon in Hertz Hall: The first performance, at 10:30, is of Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, to be followed by Cimarosa's Concerto in G Major for Two Flutes at 11 a.m. and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor at 11:30 a.m. Those not yet sated by sound can cross over to Morrison Hall at noon for a lecture/demonstration featuring faculty composer Cindy Cox's The Other Side of the World for flute and tape - a "new music" composition that features poetry by John Campion and a performance by flutist Laurel Zucker. Other musical offerings during the day will include demonstrations of the campus's collections of historic organs, harpsichords, clavichords, and fortepianos by Professor Davitt Moroney; a choral music performance; an "electronic sound garden" in the courtyard of Hertz Hall; and the periodic eruptions of gamelan, carillon, and African drumming that are a Cal Day tradition.
Speaking of traditions, one still developing, but thriving in its third year, is the presentation of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award, created and funded by the late philanthropist and devoted friend of the campus. (A special tribute to Peter Haas, who died earlier this year, will be a feature of this year's presentation.) Chancellor Birgeneau will present this year's award to Berkeley alumna Chia-Chia Chien (M.S.W. '72, M.P.H. '74), founder and CEO of the Culture to Culture Foundation. Chien, who is being honored for her passionate commitment to promoting mental health, particularly in the Asian American community, will give a talk entitled "Bridging the Gap: From Cal to the Community." The presentation and lecture are from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Pauley Ballroom of the MLK Student Union.
There's much more to see and do, but that's not exactly new information to the thousands of Cal Day vets on and near the campus. If the foregoing isn't enough to help you plan your day effectively, check out the full program of events online, at www.urel.berkeley.edu/calday.because you just know that all that bright sunshine on Saturday will make it hard to read the printed program without squinting.