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UC Berkeley Extension's Linda Hawn, creator of Fall Freshman Program, dies at 64

– Linda Sharon Swingle Hawn, a longtime innovator in continuing education and a key leader at UC Berkeley Extension, died July 26, in Berkeley. She was 64.

Linda Hawn
Linda Hawn

Born September 22, 1939 in Bolivar, Mo., to the late Karleen Swingle and Kerneeta Parrott Swingle, Linda Swingle graduated from Southwest Missouri State University in 1961 and married William E. Hawn in 1964. She went on to establish a statewide program in continuing education for medical technologists at the University of Missouri Medical Center in Columbia, Mo. She earned her M.S. in clinical science from San Francisco State University in 1978.

In 1978, Linda Hawn joined University of California at Berkeley Extension, one of the largest continuing education institutions in the United States, where she designed professional courses in the arts and sciences. Her expanding interest in innovative educational programs led her to found the Fall Program for Freshmen in 1983 and serve as its director. Although she formally retired in October 2003, Hawn was recalled on a part-time basis to continue as department chair of the Fall Freshman Program.

Created in response to a request from the university's chancellor, the program allows some 600 freshmen to study at UC Berkeley Extension during the fall, then begin their regular study on campus in the spring. The program has since been replicated at UCLA.

Hawn served as chair of Arts, Letters, and Sciences at Extension from 1990 to 2000. In 1995 she was honored as "a pioneer, mentor, and mover" along with 98 of her peers as a part of a celebration of 125 years of women's achievement at UC Berkeley.

Hawn was a passionate and active member of the United Methodist Church, where she was president of the UC Berkeley Wesley Foundation and served on the church's committees supporting social justice and humanitarian aid for refugees. She and her husband were active supporters of Alzheimer's disease research and hospice care, hosting food and wine fundraisers throughout Northern California.

Hawn is survived by her husband, William E. Hawn, of Asti, Calif.; her brother Michael T. (and Christine) Swingle of Palm Harbor, Fla.; her sons Matthew (and Molly) Hawn of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Andrew (and Frances Sackett) Hawn of Kensington, Calif.; and her grandson, Sebastian Sackett Hawn of Kensington, Calif.

A memorial service was held on Monday, August 2, at the Walnut Creek United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations in Hawn's name may be sent to Walnut Creek United Methodist Church, 1542 Sunnyvale Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597, or to Alta Bates Summit Foundation, 2001 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.