UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley receives $16 million gift to support political science department and the Cal football program

– University of California, Berkeley, officials have announced that an alumnus and longtime supporter of the campus, Col. Charles T. Travers, has committed $12 million to endow the Department of Political Science and that the department has been named in honor of Travers and his late wife, Louise.

The gift was officially announced during a dedication ceremony today (Wednesday, May 4) renaming the department as the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science. Travers, 94, graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1932.

As a student at UC Berkeley, he met his future wife, also a political science major, in a political science class. Several family members are UC Berkeley alumni. "In my heart and soul, I love this university," Travers said, "and I wanted to do something to help it over the long term."

The $12 million endowment to the political science department -- the largest endowed gift from an individual in UC Berkeley history -- will help fund undergraduate scholarships, create graduate student fellowships, and support the recruitment and retention of faculty.

An ardent fan of the football team who has attended more than 80 Cal-Stanford Big Games, Travers also donated $4 million to support the Cal football program.

"Colonel Travers is a devoted friend and alumnus," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. "His commitment represents the kind of long-term support that we need and work hard to deserve."

George Breslauer, professor of political science and dean of social sciences in the College of Letters & Science, commended Travers for his educational vision. "Endowments such as this will provide for generations of future students and ensure the continued excellence of our department," he said. "Given the unprecedented nature of the gift, we thought it befitting to name the department in honor of Charles and Louise Travers."

Robert Price, associate vice chancellor for research and a political science professor, added that "this gift will provide critical resources toward graduate fellowships, allowing us to compete for the very best students and making it possible to maintain the political science department's stature as one of the top programs in the U.S."

Travers' $4 million dollar gift to the Cal football program will help to expand the scope of the student study center, build a student-athlete scholarship endowment and enhance the team's video capabilities.

"Colonel Travers' support and unwavering commitment has been paramount to the growth and development of our football program," said Sandy Barbour, director of athletics. "He was one of the first to establish an endowed scholarship for student-athletes in our football program, and his generous spirit has inspired others to give."

After serving as a U.S. Army colonel, Travers pursued a career with BHP Minerals International, Inc. (later a subsidiary of General Electric). He retired as vice president of land development. A resident of Greenbrae, Calif., Travers is a past president and 50-year member of the Commonwealth Club of California.

His wife, who died in 1995, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1933. Their son, Charles N. Travers, and his wife, Elizabeth H. Travers, are alumni, and his granddaughter, Nancy Travers Lucas, is an alumna.

Col. Travers has previously donated $2.6 million to the political science department and to Cal athletics. He has funded the political science department's Col. Charles T. & Louise H. Travers Program on Ethics & Accountability in Government, undergraduate student scholarships and renovation of a departmental conference room. He has also provided funds for football scholarships, athletic facility renovation and video equipment for training.

In supporting UC Berkeley's political science department, the Travers' gift endows a program that for more than four decades has ranked among the top departments of political science in the United States, according to numerous surveys, including a National Research Council survey of graduate programs. In the last 20 years, the department's Ph.D.s have won more "best dissertation" prizes from the American Political Science Association than have the graduates of any other political science department in the country.