Issues and the College
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.
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. (http://budget.ucop.edu/)
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
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.
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.
with young alums
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.