BERKELEY — On a campus long dedicated to educating Californians of every background, a major effort was announced today (Thursday, Feb. 18) to establish the University of California, Berkeley, as a national leader in research, teaching and public service related to equity and inclusion.
Backed by a $16 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the new UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will launch a sweeping array of research projects, faculty chairs, student scholarships, several dozen new courses in American cultures, and programs across the campus. The investment eventually could total $31 million, as parts of it are set up as challenge grants.
"We are in one of the most diverse states in the nation from every aspect — socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, religion, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientation. Our campus reflects that diversity, making it the perfect place to examine these issues," said Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau.
Since then, the campus has begun examining how to cultivate a more inclusive workplace for staff, created a faculty-focused diversity research center, and set up UC Berkeley's first Division of Equity and Inclusion.
A $1.5 million endowed scholarship matching fund created by the Haas, Jr. investment will encourage and match contributions of $100,000 or more and provide scholarships for community college transfer students, who disproportionately come from economically disadvantaged communities across the state. These students, in addition to their extraordinary academic qualifications and high degrees of financial need, will receive this help because of their interest in community and public service leadership.
Because of its comprehensive scope, the initiative is expected to have a more lasting impact on campus than if it were a piecemeal effort focused strictly on research or on the workplace, said Christopher Edley, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law.
"This investment meets the gold standard for philanthropy - not just generous, this will be transformative for Berkeley," Edley said. "We'll have the outstanding students and faculty to make us the undisputed center of the universe for research, teaching and service tackling one of the deepest challenges facing California, the nation and humankind. This is why I came to Berkeley."
"Cal has the potential to be a model for the nation," said Robert D. Haas, trustee of the Haas, Jr. Fund and national chair of annual giving for The Campaign for Berkeley.
"UC Berkeley historically has sought to educate Californians from every background, regardless of their financial status," he said, pointing out that a third of the campus's undergraduates come from families with incomes under $45,000, more than 70 percent receive some form of financial aid, and nearly a third are the first in their families to attend college.
"This initiative takes that public mission to a new level, propelling much-needed research on diversity and cultivating a campus built on fairness and acceptance," Haas added.
Support for this initiative is part of The Campaign for Berkeley, a comprehensive effort to raise $3 billion by June 2013 to benefit students, faculty, research, and programs, including substantial new endowment funding to preserve UC Berkeley's promise for future generations.
The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund is a private family foundation in San Francisco that was established in 1953. Over the last 10 years, the fund has made grants totaling more than $273 million to support initiatives and organizations that advance and protect fundamental rights and opportunities for all.
UC Berkeley By José Rodríguez, University Relations | 18 February 2010