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Chancellor Robert Berdahl's response to the Academic Senate

To the Members of the Academic Senate:

I am very pleased to join with the Academic Senate in presenting the final version of the Strategic Academic Plan to the campus community. The Plan represents an excellent example of productive cooperation between the Academic Senate and the administration. I look forward to building on this productive collaboration as we move forward to realize the vision outlined in the Plan.

Strategic Academic Plan

• Read the Chancellor's Introduction to the Strategic Academic Plan

• Read the Strategic Academic Plan (456K PDF file)

• Read the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate's Comments on the Strategic Academic Plan

I also want to thank both the co-chairs and all of the SPC members for their dedication to this extremely important task. I commend them for their willingness to spend the time necessary to formulate a vision that reflects both the salient traditions of Berkeley and the challenges of our ever-changing world.

In the summer of 2000, I asked the Vice-Provost for Academic Planning and Facilities (VP-APF) William Webster to lead a strategic academic planning process and to report its plan by the end of the 2001-2002 academic year. I asked that this process include broad participation from the campus community and that it be a joint effort of the administration and the Academic Senate. Accordingly, when the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) was formed in the fall of 2000, it comprised equal membership from the administration and the Academic Senate and it was chaired jointly by VP-APF Webster and Academic Senate Chair David Dowall.

This committee met regularly from the fall of 2000 through the spring of 2002; it also conducted a series of "town-hall meetings" so that suggestions from the entire campus community could be heard and brought into the discussions of the SPC. Drafts of the report were posted on the web for campus commentary. The SPC submitted its final report in the summer of 2002. That report has been reviewed by the Academic Senate; in February 2003, the Senate appended its comments on the Strategic Plan. With this preamble, I am now providing the final version of the Academic Strategic Plan to the entire campus community.

This strategic plan is not static. Instead, it is a living document, based on enduring principles, which addresses new realities as they are presented and opportunities as they are revealed. It must continue to excite and engage the changing campus community in a continuing dialogue between the various stakeholders. In this spirit, my remarks, as well as the appended comments from the Academic Senate, should be considered part of this ongoing dialogue.

Contents of the Plan

The Strategic Academic Plan begins with a section entitled, "The Essence of Berkeley." I believe this section crystallizes the characteristics that have made Berkeley the premier public university in America. It defines the enduring core values that the campus seeks to realize in all of its endeavors. It offers the lens through which we must view and analyze the challenges that confront the campus and through which we frame an approach to solving these problems that both honors our past and assures our greatness in the future. It provides a set of principles against which all of our choices in the future, difficult though they may be, can be tested.

The Strategic Academic Plan then describes the internal and external environment in which it has been developed: the public mission, the expectations for growth, the need to keep pace with the evolution of academic disciplines, the demands of intellectual community, the requirements for physical space, and the need to align resource allocations with these imperatives.

In the following sections, the SAP develops the ten principles and a series of related proposals derived from the essential character of Berkeley and the environment with which we deal. It calls for limits on enrollment growth; defines the terms by which excellence can be preserved; identifies the new areas of academic inquiry to be considered; suggests the means of enhancing undergraduate education, transforming instruction, and strengthening graduate education; defines the basis for maintaining Berkeley’s leadership in research; and outlines the conditions necessary for developing a stronger campus academic and residential community. The SAP also provides a set of actions for implementing its recommendations.

The final section of the SAP prioritizes three categories of actions. These are labeled: institutionalizing the plan, structuring implementation, and establishing responsibility. Taken together, these constitute a "road map" for the campus to follow in enacting the plan.

Current Actions on Implementation of the SAP

In the short time that has passed since I have received the plan, we have taken several steps to enact its recommendations.

1. Recommendations for Institutionalizing the SAP.

  • The SAP recommends a yearly "State of the Campus" address by the Chancellor. Although I have offered general remarks on the state of the campus in addressing the Academic Senate at its fall and spring meetings, given the press of business at these meetings, the remarks are normally very brief. I am committed to offering a more complete address, outlining the challenges and decisions that lie before us and my plans and recommendations for dealing with them.
  • The SAP calls for the administration to join with the Academic Senate in reviewing the Senate Committee structure to assure that it is aligned to address recommendations of the SAP. I have directed the Chancellor’s Cabinet to work with the Senate in order to complete this work in the current academic year.
  • In accordance with the recommendation of the SAP, I have charged the Vice-Provost for Academic Planning and Facilities with the responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the Plan. I have asked that the VP-APF report annually to the Chancellor and the Chair of the Academic Senate on the status of implementation of the SAP. In addition, the VP-APF is now an ex-officio member of CAPRA.

2. Recommendations for Structuring Implementation of the SAP.

  • The SAP proposes a more systematic and complete process for reviewing academic programs. Accordingly, we have asked the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Dean of the Graduate Division to work with the Academic Senate to rethink the program review process. As a result of this deliberation, a new comprehensive review process has been developed and it is being applied to two programs as a pilot this year. We anticipate finalizing the new review process during the coming academic year and eventually applying it to five or more programs per year.
  • The SAP proposes that several of the academic themes identified by the Plan be identified for investment and support over the next three years. This process is underway, with the first phase in the fall of 2002 involving nearly 30% of the academic community on the campus. A distinguished external review team has praised the campus for its leadership and "bottoms-up" approach to program building and it has assisted in identifying those programs that seem most ready for early investment.
  • The SAP recognizes the importance of capital investment in realizing the ambitions of the Plan and calls for the creation of a real estate office to provide a more coherent and proactive approach to space acquisition. The campus has contracted with a highly qualified and experienced real estate executive to assist in the planning of additional space acquisition and utilization. In addition, of course, the New Century Plan provides guidance for the future development of the campus and plans are also underway for the employment of remote locations such as the Richmond Field Station.

3. Recommendations for Establishing Responsibility for Implementation of the SAP.

  • The SAP identifies the campus officer or officers who, in conjunction with the Academic Senate will be responsible for carrying out and overseeing each of the recommendations of the SAP. The offices identified with each recommendation will be responsible for giving a progress report annually on the status of implementation of the recommendations.

Additional Considerations

The Addendum attached by the Academic Senate to the Strategic Academic Plan mentions a number of issues that it believes calls for special emphasis or consideration. I would like to emphasize several areas mentioned by the Senate that I also believe need fuller consideration by the campus.

The first is campus diversity. The SAP identifies diversity as part of the essence of Berkeley. It declares a "vital and diverse intellectual community" as one of the characteristics essential to Berkeley. The SAP also acknowledges: "One area of change with profound implications is the growing diversity of the state population. California is now one of the most diverse states in the country, and this reality should be reflected in our students, faculty, researchers, and staff. We must strive to remove the impediments, and build new paths, to full participation in the life and work of the campus, including robust programs of outreach and financial aid."

While it is clear that Berkeley prides itself on the diversity of its intellectual community and recognizes that the changing demographics of the state will have substantial implications for the campus, it seems to me important that our planning for the future go beyond this recognition. The diverse nature of this campus has been, and is, essential to the greatness of Berkeley. Our ability to preserve that greatness in the years ahead will involve strenuous efforts to attract and serve a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff.

Having said that, it seems to me important for us to acknowledge that the discussion of "diversity" within the University over the past decade or more has become too narrow; the discourse is repetitive and devoid of new ideas. The discussion has been focused on a limited range of issues largely pertaining to access to the University by groups who have been historically underrepresented. Without setting aside the continued importance of this issue, I believe the campus needs to advance the discussion by redefining and rethinking the entire issue of campus diversity in the light of changes in the world. We need to broaden the discussion to consider how religious and cultural differences, international influences, immigration, and growing economic disparities alter considerations of diversity. We need to consider how our curricular and extra-curricular programs can embrace these broader definitions. Accordingly, I intend to ask a group of faculty, students, and staff to help the campus reconsider what we mean by "diversity" in our continued commitment to achieve both excellence and diversity.

The second area that, I believe, will require specific attention of planners in the future is the future of the humanities. Berkeley has always had extraordinarily strong departments in the humanities and it continues to do so. These will remain the cornerstone of our strength in the humanities. However, the new initiatives outlined in the SAP are all interdisciplinary in nature and call for collaborations across broad disciplinary borders. Reviewers of these initiatives have noted that because humanists are more accustomed to solitary work, the cross-disciplinary initiatives involving humanists appeared to be less natural and therefore less compelling.

It seems important, therefore, lest the humanities be disadvantaged in this process of allocating new resources, that the administration and the faculty consider how best to proceed in sustaining support for balance on the campus of the future.

The next two issues - staff and computing- are key infrastructure concerns for the campus. Just as the New Century Plan lays out a strategic direction for buildings and grounds, we also need to articulate strategies and implementation plans for our non-academic workforce and for information technology. Both of these issues were also noted in the response from the Academic Senate.
Staff are central to the achievement of Berkeley's mission and to the overall success of the campus. However, we have not invested enough in the structures and processes that attract and retain a motivated, high-performing and engaged workforce. With the current budget situation, I am especially concerned that we will lose more ground with our staff if we aren't thoughtful in the development and implementation of programs that sustain performance excellence.
In September 2001, I appointed the Staff Infrastructure Steering Committee (SISC) to work with the Office of Human Resources (OHR) in designing and implementing such programs. I endorsed the Staff Strategy which describes how we should invest in the development of new and revised HR programs and systems that improve organizational effectiveness across campus. I am encouraged by the progress that SISC is making and urge our academic leadership to join with SISC in ensuring that this strategy is fully realized.

Technology intersects with many parts of campus. Our investment in technology, although substantial, is not keeping pace with the rapid changes in the field and with the increasing expectations from our students. And again, we risk losing more ground in the current budget climate.

Through the e-Berkeley initiative, we have been making progress toward our goal of using the power of the Web to transform the way we operate. I am pleased with work that eBerkeley has supported and agree with the Senate that we also need a strategic plan for information technology at Berkeley. I will look to the eBerkeley Steering Committee to put this on their agenda in the next year.

The Future

As I stated at the outset, a strategic plan is not a static document. In many respects, the process of developing a plan for the future is as important as the plan itself, for any plan will have to be adjusted as needs change and new challenges and opportunities arise. However, this plan provides the campus with an excellent set of principles and proposals; it calls for a set of actions which, if followed, I believe will help secure the future of the campus. We are working to implement important aspects of the plan and will continue to do so in the immediate future as resources are forthcoming. I have already begun discussions with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Gray about how to best organize our senior management team to support the effective implementation of the academic plan, and its companion infrastructure. We will make annual status reports and, in 2005-06, ask the campus to undertake a review of the entire Strategic Academic Plan. In this way, we can assure it remains a living document.

Robert M. Berdahl