by Michelle Barer Moskowitz
The campus's Government Affairs program within the Office of Public Affairs shifted into high gear this fall with activities designed to increase the visibility of the campus in Sacramento and in Washington. This effort intentionally coincided with the beginning of Chancellor Berdahl's tenure and with the recently launched Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal (SAFER) program.
Keeping in touch with key policy makers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., has always been good public relations and good policy for Berkeley.
This is reflected most noticeably in the depth and breadth of research grants, awards and public service recognition given to the campus and its faculty each year.
Conversations with state and federal government leaders are regularly facilitated by Len Materman, Berkeley's director of government affairs, and often include the chancellor, other top administrators and representative faculty members.
The meetings serve to highlight Berkeley's contributions to the state and the nation.
A further goal of these meetings, and much of our government affairs work with Congress, is to convey Berkeley's position on pending legislation impacting the campus.
In recent months these conversations and efforts have become focused additionally on funding to seismically retrofit campus facilities.
The campus is currently seeking significant support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of California, as well as traditional and non-traditional university funding sources for its seismic needs.
Thus Government Affairs' work to strengthen ties with government and portray Berkeley as a "national treasure" worthy of preservation is more important than ever.
The campaign to renew our facilities, as outlined in the new SAFER report, is crucial to the campus's ability to provide a safe work environment and maintain top-ranked research, teaching and public service.
Toward this effort, Chancellor Berdahl and others met in September with Sen. Feinstein and Bay Area representatives Pelosi, Tauscher, Lantos, Eschoo and Woolsey and in October met with FEMA Director James Lee Witt.
On the state level, meetings with Gov. Wilson and state legislative leaders apprised them of our seismic issues.
Also, just before Thanksgiving, Interim Vice Chancellor Nicholas Jewell, who heads the SAFER effort, and Materman went to Sacramento to discuss the SAFER program with state agency leaders.
To further strengthen ties, Government Affairs co-sponsored several activities and events this fall, including a reception honoring the university's national leadership at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., hosted by Chancellor Berdahl and former Berkeley Chancellor and Smithsonian Secretary Ira Michael Heyman.
Another notable Government Affairs event was the second annual Big Game party in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, attended by over 200 Sacramento-area alumni including government and campus leaders.
In the past three weeks, government leaders including Sen. Dianne Fein-stein, representatives Tom Camp-bell and Bob Matsui, state Sen. Barbara Lee, and state assemblywomen Dion Aroner and Liz Figueroa visited the campus.
Also during this period, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at Clark Kerr campus to a group of students, staff and faculty on the foster care legislation recently signed by President Clinton.
This expanded effort by Berkeley's Government Affairs program is the beginning of larger plans for enhancing the campus's relationship with government leaders as we face challenges that lie ahead.
Government Affairs looks forward to involving more members of the campus community, particularly individual faculty members, in future efforts.
If you have questions or comments or would like information on Government Affairs activities, contact Materman at 643-9164 or Moskowitz at 642-7016.