Seismic Work, Budgets and Promotions: News from the Dean

by Clayton Heathcock, Dean

Our seismic work is proceeding on schedule and will be complete in just three more months. We have watched in awe as our contractors have placed an enormous amount of steel (‘re-bar’) and concrete in the new shear walls. The last concrete has been poured in Hildebrand and everything but one segment of the west wall of Latimer has been completed. If you have a few minutes, you might like to take a look at some of the photos that we have posted over the last year at various stages of the project:

http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/~physplnt/Seismic/photos/.

The campus administration has taken advantage of the opportunity provided by the seismic project to do some much needed ‘deferred maintenance’ on our buildings. We have already replaced several major items of infrastructure, including the main Latimer Hall electrical transformer, and in the coming months we will be replacing much of the exhaust duct work in Latimer Hall and cleaning the air-supply ducts in Hildebrand Hall. We have had major maintenance projects on several of our elevators and expect upgrades of the Gilman and Lewis Hall elevators in the coming months. Finally, both Latimer and Gilman Hall will get new roofs either this year or next year.

We have also made significant progress in the past year in renovations of some of our laboratory facilities. In December we completed the second phase of a $3.5 million renovation of 5500 sq. ft. of synthetic laboratory space on the eighth floor of Latimer Hall for Carolyn Bertozzi and Paul Bartlett, funded partly by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, partly by a gift to the Center for New Directions in Organic Synthesis from Bristol-Myers Squibb. We also completed a $1.6 million renovation of 4100 sq. ft. of biochemistry lab space on the second floor of Lewis Hall for Michael Marletta, who moved to Berkeley from Michigan last summer. The Marletta renovations were made possible by funds from the campus administration, in connection with his recruitment.

The other significant event with which we are currently dealing is the uncertain state budget. As you may have read, the State of California expects a very large deficit, both this fiscal year and next year. The underlying reason is a precipitous decline in State of California general fund revenues due to declining income from capital gains and stock options. In 1995-96, the total income from these two sources was $2.6 billion, corresponding to about 6 percent of the total general fund revenue. This revenue source steadily increased through the ‘dot-com-boom’ until it reached $18 billion in 2000-01, corresponding to almost 24 percent of the total general fund revenue. However, the ‘dot-com-bust’ has resulted in a significant decline in capital gains and stock option revenue and in November, the California State Legislative Analyst predicted that revenues from these sources will fall to approximately $7.2 billion in 2001-02, resulting in an $11 billion reduction in State of California general fund revenue for the current fiscal year. In mid-January, Governor Davis published his suggested budget for the coming fiscal year and we breathed a great sigh of relief when we saw that education in general and higher education in particular has been shielded from the draconian cuts that we had feared. We will no doubt have a lean year in FY2002 and both faculty and staff salary increases will probably be minimal, but it does appear that we will continue more-or-less with business as usual. In particular, we will be able to fill vacant positions and even experience modest growth as the expected increase in enrollments continues during the next few years.

Even though our chemistry and chemical engineering departments are ranked first and third (or second, depending on who is doing the rankings) in the nation, we have only three Chairs or Distinguished Professorships for a combined faculty of 72. For comparison, three schools who are in the peer groups of both departments (Caltech, Stanford, MIT) have a combined total of 60 Chairs for 149 faculty, and the chemistry departments of three leading ‘public’ universities (Michigan, Illinois, Texas) have a total of 32 Chairs for 162 faculty members.

We are making progress in this area. During the current year we have established the Melvin Calvin Distinguished Professorship, and the Department of Chemistry has recommended that Graham Fleming be appointed to this position. I have endorsed this recommendation and EVCP Paul Gray is now considering it. I have reason to believe that, within the next year, we will be able to announce the creation of between three and five additional endowed Chairs or Distinguished Professorships. In addition, the G. N. Lewis Era Alumni group has raised two-thirds of their $500,000 goal in their campaign to endow a G. N. Lewis Chair, and the friends and former students of Emeritus Professor Henry Rapoport are one-third of the way there in their campaign to raise the same amount to endow a Henry Rapoport Chair.

One of my regular activities as dean is to attend the biweekly ‘Council of Deans.’ From time to time, deans are asked to give brief presentations about their units. My turn is coming up soon and I have prepared a Powerpoint presentation. If you are interested, you can view it on the College website; just point your browser to http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/COD.ppt.

The Chemistry Department instituted a major change in the undergraduate curriculum this year. As the recent graduates will recall, we offer two freshman chemistry courses, Chem 1AB and Chem 4AB. Chem 1AB is our principal service course and has an enrollment of more than 1500 students per year. Chem 4AB is an ‘honors’ course and is much smaller, but more advanced in that certain facility with mathematics is assumed. This year, for the first time, Chem 4AB is required for all chemistry and chemical engineering majors. Furthermore, the course is being team-taught by a group of faculty who represent a number of the major areas of research scholarship. Non-majors are still accepted in Chem 4AB, but only after all majors have been accommodated. By having all of our majors together in this smaller course, we will be able to provide some special attention and better lay the groundwork for their later upper-division work. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly favorable.

editor@cchem.berkeley.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within the next year, we will be able to announce the creation of between three and five additional endowed Chairs or Distinguished Professorships.