No summer vacation at Cal, where classrooms are filled with students of all ages

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs

BERKELEY--Final exams are over, as are the 55 spring graduation ceremonies and the annual mass exodus from student residence halls.

Is the University of California, Berkeley, settling in for a long, quiet summer?


"The best kept secret in America," according to one campus administrator, is UC Berkeley's Summer Sessions. A series of sessions that lasts from May 24 to August 13, the program draws so many students - 12,000 people, altogether, will take undergraduate classes this summer - that all of Cal's classrooms currently are filled most of the day.

A little known fact is that, at UC Berkeley, one of the nation's most selective public universities, virtually anyone can attend summer school.

For a mere $25, people 55 and older can audit as many classes as they'd like. There are special programs for junior and senior high school students getting a head start on college degrees. International students flock to campus in higher numbers than during the fall and spring. In addition, a whopping 38 percent of the undergraduate population - about 8,500 students - have chosen to study on campus this summer rather than take a vacation.

"Summer is the most diverse time of year," said Gary Penders, director of UC Berkeley Summer Sessions. "It's been called the best kept secret in America."

And while you won't see them in class, hundreds of goats are working in the hills nearby on a fire prevention project. Meanwhile, in literally every corner of the campus, 6,500 kids - the human kind - are reveling in Cal's summer camps.

Affordable Audits for Seniors

Thanks to an idea presented to UC Berkeley by a 74-year-old woman, the campus, for the first time this summer, is offering senior citizens a $25 card that allows them to audit any of 160 college courses. (See the separate press release on this program).

"Seniors are often the purest of scholars because they want to learn for the sake of learning, not for grades, credits or a degree," said Penders. "Because of this, faculty respond very well to having them in the classroom."

Goats? in Berkeley????

On an urban campus, the sight of goateed goats grazing on the hillside is startling. But their appetite for grass and poison oak helps protect the campus and its neighbors from wildfires. This summer, between one and five herds of goats - each herd made up of some 300-500 animals - owned by an Alhambra Valley company called Goats R Us, have returned to UC Berkeley's hilly property in a four-tiered livestock truck to graze the days away.

"We count on them every year to come up here and eat the fire fuel," said Kathleen Moorehouse, resource manager for the Office of Laboratory Animal Care, a building around which the goats graze. "We're always glad to see them coming because it means we can put away our weed whackers, at least for a little while."

Campers on Campus

Some 6,500 children ranging from a wee six months old to age 17 flood the campus in June, July and August for dozens of UC Berkeley summer camps. The Botanical Garden has a camp, as do the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and the Haas School of Business, which offers a summer program for young business enthusiasts. Other camps include a safari camp, one for kids learning English, and sports sessions in which young athletes learn pointers from UC Berkeley players and coaches.

CalSO Crash Courses

Freshmen and transfer students planning to start college in the fall visit UC Berkeley in the summer for an intensive orientation program. In two-day-long crash courses offered throughout the summer, about 6,500 incoming students learn from current students what it takes to survive at Cal. Among the lessons learned are how to use Tele-bears, the campus's automated registration system, what classes to take their first semester, and where to find the best slice of pizza.

What's All That Noise?

Drier weather and fewer students on campus means building construction can intensify during the summer months. In fact, "some of the more disruptive work is scheduled," said Jeffrey Gee, UC Berkeley director of design and project management. "For example, major underground utility work is now underway in various parts of the campus."

The Haas Pavilion project, expected to be finished in August, will expand seating at the old Harmon Gymnasium from approximately 6,700 to 12,100 seats. Other major work to be stepped up this summer includes the seismic upgrade of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building and the renovations of Edwards Stadium and McCone Hall.

But Gee added that coordination and scheduling of construction remains a challenge during the summer since "the campus is still very busy."

Where have all the teachers gone?

According to the Summer Sessions annual report, 163 regular faculty members remain on campus to teach classes. Others with no teaching responsibilities stay in town to catch up on research projects.

"Summer is the best time to get a lot of research done," said Tsu-Jae King, professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences. "It's a good time for creative thinking. It's less rushed, and I can spend more time with the grad students who do research because I am not preoccupied with teaching."

Don't assume that Cal professors not on campus are at play.

"People may travel to do research projects," said Karen Holtermann, director of public affairs for the College of Engineering, "but we don't have many professors who check out for the summer and go to the beach."

Professors in distant lands this summer include Eric Stover, director of UC Berkeley's Human Rights Center, who is researching mass graves in Kosovo, and Wayne Sousa, professor of integrative biology, who is setting up an ecological experiment in the mangrove swamps of Panama.

An Academic Boot Camp

Central Valley youngsters are leaving their rural homes this summer to spend six weeks in Coalinga/Huron/Avenal House, a Berkeley residence near campus. As part of the Academic Talent Development Program, the 21 students, from grades 7 through 12, take special college preparatory classes and learn about urban living.

They also learn about diversity. Latino, African American, Asian, Pakistani and white teenagers participating in the program literally break bread together at dinner, often a rare occurrence in their own communities. In shifts, their parents sacrifice vacation time to join their children, cooking meals and providing encouragement during this unique college experience. (See attached press release for more information).

This server has been established by the University of California at Berkeley Public Information Office. Copyright for all items on this server held by The Regents of the University of California. Thanks for your interest in UC Berkeley.
More Press Releases | More Campus News and Events | UC Berkeley Home Page


Send comments to: