Construction, new faces, priorities greet fall 2001
Berdahl highlights major changes in briefing with reporters

29 August 2001 | New construction, more plentiful student housing, and some big campus plans for the new academic year greeted students starting school this week, Chancellor Berdahl told reporters at an Aug. 23 back-to-school briefing at the Women’s Faculty Club.

“It’s the most exciting time of year around here, and there are many things that we will be paying special attention to on campus this year,” Berdahl told reporters, who gathered to chat informally with him, key administrators and ASUC leaders about campus activities and priorities for the new academic year.

More than $200 million in construction to provide new student housing, renovate classroom and lab space and improve the seismic safety of campus buildings is under way in Barrows, Hildebrand, Latimer, Barker and Wurster halls, Berdahl said. Work also continues to retrofit and renovate the campus’s historic Hearst Memorial Mining Building.

The housing crunch has eased this year, Berdahl said, due in part to the exodus of the dot-com community, and local rents have stabilized somewhat. All 5,183 students who applied for on-campus housing were accommodated this year. Berdahl said landlords were calling the housing office to report openings for late-arriving students, a marked switch from recent years. In addition, ground has been broken for apartment-style housing at College and Durant avenues, which will provide an additional 120 units next year for upper-division students. And a new dining facility on Channing Way and Bowditch Street is under construction.

Berdahl emphasized work being done to promote fire safety, a city-campus collaboration to educate renters and ensure that no student moves into housing that is not equipped with a working smoke detector. The effort was galvanized by two tragic fires last year, one occurring just as students were moving in, and both of which hit the campus and community hard. Berdahl and campus administrators initiated a program last year to work with local agencies, community leaders and landlords to ensure students are housed in safe environments.

Some new community services grew out of that effort. Students are encouraged to pick up free smoke detectors and schedule free window inspections this year with the Berkeley Fire Department, Berdahl said.

Berdahl acknowledged new leaders on campus this fall, including new deans David Pearson of education and Dennis Levi of optometry and new athletic director Stephen Gladstone, who will become a familiar face on the football field this fall. He also noted the reorganization of many undergraduate support services under Vice Provost Christina Maslach and the new Office of Undergraduate Education, launching new strategies for teaching innovation and promoting closer faculty-student interactions. A new series of freshmen seminars, originating from Maslach’s work, is being inaugurated this fall.

The year won’t be without its struggles, Berdahl noted, including the challenge of addressing staff workload issues and redesigning the staff job classification and compensation system, as recommended by a campus report issued in May.

This year’s state budget sets aside only 2 percent for salary increases, far below the mark requested by the campus. To be competitive, the report said, the campus needs to raise staff salaries significantly over the next several years.


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