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Spring 2004


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RNA Research in the College

Update on BP Collaboration

Life on Mars: Mathies

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Dean's Desk
by Clayton H. Heathcock

Budget Issues and the College


Dean Clayton Heathcock

It has been an exciting—and somewhat difficult—year in California. The state is still dealing with a massive budget deficit, and the University of California has been hurt along with everyone else. Like last year, we have been required to implement temporary spending reductions. To meet our assigned spending reduction target, we have left several staff positions vacant; we have reduced positions that we thought were not critical; we have decreased our state subsidy for some research support services; and we have deferred two new faculty appointments to the following year. While these reductions permit us to continue “business-more-or-less-as-usual,” we cannot sustain the excellence of Berkeley chemistry and chemical engineering on a long-term basis at these reduced levels of funding.

Higher fees create hardships
One of the most difficult things about the budget crisis has been the proposed (and likely to be imple mented) significant increases in tuition and fees for undergraduate and graduate students. The rationale for these very large tuition increases is that the tuition at peer public institutions, such as the University of Michigan, is significantly greater than at the University of California. While this may be true, the large increases that have been experienced by our students (and their parents) during the last two years have created a severe hardship in many cases and, combined with a reduced admissions target for UC as a whole, represent a further step away from the traditional philosophy embodied in the Master Plan for Higher Education—that every qualified high school graduate in California will have a chance for affordable higher education.

The proposed 40 percent increase in graduate education fees that was put forth in the new governor’s January budget would severely hurt both of our departments, because graduate students are supported largely by research grants. Since grant funds are also becoming more scarce in the current economic climate, our only option is to reduce the total number of graduate students that we take into our programs. (

New Endowed Chairs
In times like these, the generosity of our donors is especially important. During the last year, we have been able to establish three new endowed Chairs, which are currently under final review by the Office of the President. These are the Charles R. Wilke Chair in Chemical Engineering, the John R.Thomas Chair in Chemistry (established by a bequest from his widow, Mitzie) and the T. Z. and Irmgard Chu Chair in Chemistry.

In addition, we are about to embark on a $3 million laboratory renovation project that is made possible by a second gift from T. Z. and Irmgard Chu and by the estate of Ann Shiffler, widow of Bill Shiffler (’23). These new laboratory facilities will provide essential growth space for several of our very promising assistant professors and will also permit the chemistry department to make an impact faculty appointment in chemical biology in 2005.

Chemical Biology B.S. to be awarded
The new B. S. degree in Chemical Biology has been approved, and more than 100 students are now enrolled in the new major. In fact, I will have the pleasure of conferring the first Chemical Biology degrees in the 2004 commencement on May 22. The existence of this new major has had a striking effect on our undergraduate majors headcount: prior to 2003, more students transferred out of the College of Chemistry to one of the other colleges (mostly Letters and Sciences) than into the college; since the chemical biology program was implemented, there has been a net inflow of transfers.

Nano focus
We also have a new “designated emphasis” in nanoscience and engineering (NSE) for graduate
students. A designated emphasis is rather like a minor in the subject. More than 40 faculty members in three different colleges (including 13 from the College of Chemistry) are participating in this new program. (

Connecting with young alums
Finally, I want to mention a wonderful event that was held in April, in which a number of recent alumni hosted an evening reception to congratulate all of the 2004 graduates. Held in the McCollum Room on the seventh floor of Tan Hall, the reception was attended by more than 80 people. There were congratulatory toasts and a large amount of networking. We plan for this celebratory reception to be a regular event each spring and hope that this will help us build a stronger bond between the College of Chemistry and our young alums.

© 2004 UC Regents

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