Keeping Excellence and Diversity Alive
W hen I reflect on the recent news that our campus has the most top-ranking research-doctorate programs of any American university, I am encouraged about the future of the University of California, Berkeley.
The National Research Council has just issued the results of a four-year study of research-doctorate programs in 274 public and private universities based on statistics collected through 1993. At Berkeley, 35 of the 36 programs assessed in the study made the top 10 list--more than at Harvard, more than at Stanford, more than at any campus in the nation.
The National Research Council rankings are highly significant not only because they are based on a comprehensive study. These are also the only rankings based purely on academic criteria. The significance of Berkeley's premier standing extends beyond the research-doctorate programs that were evaluated. The same professors who lead our graduate programs teach at the undergraduate level. Undergraduate and graduate students alike benefit from working directly with Berkeley faculty members whose research and teaching are setting the standards for academic excellence and scholastic enterprise.
The stellar results of the National Research Council study also reflect the spirit that distinguishes our campus community and keeps our research, teaching and public service in the forefront, even in the face of adversity. None of us has forgotten the hardships that characterized the first half of the 1990s. State budget cuts, three early retirement programs for faculty and staff, student fee increases and temporary wage cuts seem an unlikely formula for academic success.
Yet your commitment did not falter. When I ask myself who is responsible for Berkeley's world-class stature, I think of the professors who work late into the night, conducting research in cramped laboratories alongside dedicated graduate students. I think of the undergraduate students who volunteer to advise newcomers during Welcome Week, tutor youngsters in the local schools, and assist in student-computer labs. I think of the support staff who go the extra mile to prepare budgets, edit research papers, set up information systems and advise students. I think of our alumni, parents of students, and friends who give to Berkeley again and again and again.
No single individual is responsible for Berkeley's top rankings from the National Research Council and our many other achievements in these difficult years. You--the faculty, students, staff, alumni, parents and friends--have made Berkeley number one by working together and demonstrating unflagging commitment to our mission. If we continue to pull together, I believe we can keep excellence and diversity alive even though we still face challenges in the year ahead.
Our first challenge is confronting possible reductions in federal research support. As federal lawmakers scrutinize each expenditure in their efforts to balance the national budget, research support is threatened.
As you know, federal research support paves the way for pioneering investigations that help shape the future of the American economy, medicine, preservation of natural resources and quality of life. Also, research is linked to the quality of teaching. Graduate and undergraduate students who work alongside faculty are learning how to explore the frontiers of knowledge.
Even with the increasing competition for support, our faculty members secured $307 million in research grants and contracts in the 1994-95 year, an impressive 22 percent increase. This $307 million shows the success of our institution in leveraging support that contributes to the state and local economy. Yet this is not the time to become complacent. We must strive to increase public understanding of the vital role of research and to build support for our investigations.
Our second challenge is continuing to meet our historic responsibility of serving a student body that encompasses all of California. Last July, the UC Board of Regents decided that UC campuses would be the first in the nation to discontinue the use of race, ethnicity and gender in student admissions, hiring and contracts. We anticipate this action could have a significant effect on the composition of our student body.
I have committed $1 million to launch the Berkeley Pledge. The pledge will strengthen our partnership with schools, expand our recruitment of high school students, help to keep our campus affordable to all students regardless of income, create an environment that will foster success for all Berkeley students and inspire students to pursue graduate studies and professional careers.
Now we must put the Berkeley Pledge into action. It will take our collective commitment to make sure our campus will continue living up to President Daniel Coit Gilman's vision of a university "of the people and for the people." I ask for your active support in reaching out, recruiting and welcoming highly qualified students who encompass the great diversity of California.
Our third challenge is finding new resources for preserving and enhancing Berkeley's superb teaching, research and public service. We are planning to launch the largest fund-raising campaign in Berkeley's history next fall with an expected goal of
$1 billion. The campaign will directly support the work of faculty and students through scholarships, fellowships and research assistance.
In the last fiscal year, the campus received a record $156.1 million in private contributions, nearly $29 million more than in any other year and $45 million more than the prior year. I cannot imagine a finer start to our campaign. We must continue to seek the support of friends and alumni who recognize the value of Berkeley.
Our fourth challenge is striving for greater efficiency and administrative reform. No matter how successful we are in finding new resources, we will never return to the level of funding we enjoyed in earlier decades. Although the state budget outlook appears to be more stable in the immediate future, we do not anticipate recovering the funds we have lost throughout the early 1990s. At best, we can expect modest increases like the 3.5 percent increase in state support that we received this year.
Already, our reforms are significant. We have computerized student registration. Travel costs are reimbursed electronically. We have given greater authority to campus units for personnel decisions and purchasing. Still, we must continue to find new ways to streamline our operation and deliver services even more efficiently.
Although the challenges ahead are major, I remain confident we will continue to be a model for higher education. The finest professors continue to come to our campus, and they stay here despite extremely attractive offers from our competitors. More than 80 percent of our first-choice faculty candidates decided on Berkeley this year. Applications for the current freshman class climbed 9 percent, and about 9,500 of the 22,800 applicants had grade-point averages of 4.0 or above. Our campus received some 59,000 independent donations in the last year alone.
In these pages, you will see many of Berkeley's achievements in the last year. This report highlights the progress our campus has made in the last year on the four goals that I set when I was appointed chancellor: forging academic excellence, enhancing diversity and the campus climate; advancing undergraduate education; and building ties to the outside world.
No matter what measure you use--National Research Council rankings, faculty recruits or the level of private gifts--the conclusion is the same. Berkeley's teaching, research and public service are going strong. Let us continue our close collaboration in the year ahead. Together we will keep excellence and diversity alive.