Dean's Desk, Spring 1999

by Alexis T. Bell, Dean

he end of last year proved to be an exciting period for the College. In late October, the campus was notified that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would award $42 million to undertake the seismic strengthening of four buildings. Of this total amount, the College will receive $26 million for the renovation of Latimer and Hildebrand Halls. In December, the State indicated that it would provide $9 million towards the same goal, so that a total of $35 million is now available. The work to be undertaken with these funds involves the construction of shear walls and braces to strengthen the buildings. FEMA has imposed a very aggressive schedule: construction is scheduled to start by July of 2000 and both projects are to be finished one year later.


Chancellor Robert Berdahl and FEMA Director James Lee Witt at a forum dicussing a new initiative for Disaster-Resistant Universities. The forum followed a press conference announcing the $42 million seismic improvement grant.


At the same time that Latimer Hall is undergoing seismic renovation, we plan to renovate about 5,000 ASF of laboratories using $2.5 million, of which $1.0 million comes from an NIH research infrastructure grant and $1.5 million comes from the unrestricted resources provided evenly by the University and College. I want to take this opportunity to express the College's sincere thanks to its many donors who enabled the College to generate its share, $750,000, of the matching funds.

Stimulated by the need to plan for the construction associated with the seismic renovations and the NIH laboratory renovations, two College space planning committees were appointed—one for Latimer and the other for Hildebrand Hall. These committees were also asked to create a long range plan for the more logical and programmatic use of College space. Professor Clayton Heathcock, together with Professors Paul Alivisatos and Richard Mathies, working in conjunction with other faculty and staff, have drafted such a plan—still in the discussion stage—which calls for the modernization of research laboratories in the tower portion of Hildebrand Hall, while that portion of the building is undergoing seismic renovations, and for the upgrade of the HVAC systems in both Latimer and Hildebrand.


The College Advisory Board met on October 9. The agenda included research presentations by Professors David Graves and Jean Frechet, a discussion of university/industry cooperation, a report on the seismic conditions of the College, and a tour of some of the facilities.

Pictured in Graham Fleming's new seminar room are (l. to r.) Vic Evins, Alex Voshchenkov, Mike Ramage, Joe Wirth, Nirmal Chatterjee, Ron Banducci, and Dean Alex Bell, listening to the presentation given by grad student Brent Krueger.


In its later phases, the plan calls for the modernization of additional laboratories in Latimer and Hildebrand Halls. It also advocates the eventual consolidation of all of the College's teaching laboratories into one building, thereby releasing space for the creation of new research laboratories in Latimer Hall. Needless to say, this is a very bold and creative plan that will require close cooperation between the College and University for its execution. A significant amount of fund-raising by the University and College will also be needed. One effort already initiated to this end is the creation of a Center for New Directions in Organic Synthesis, which is described in Chair Bartlett's article in this issue. Other centers are also being planned.

In other news, Professor Emeritus Y. T. Lee, currently President of Academia Sinica, will be honored with the Clark Kerr medal for distinguished leadership in higher education at a dinner on February 22. The medal will be presented by the officers of the Academic Senate, and President Emeritus Clark Kerr plans to make a few remarks.

Another prestigious award was shared by the College of Chemistry and our colleagues in the biological and physical sciences and engineering. In a White House ceremony on September 10, President Clinton handed out the 1998 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. Berkeley's Coalition for Excellence and Diversity in Mathematics, Science and Engineering, which aims to boost the success of women and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in these fields, was one of eight institutional programs to receive the award—and a $10,000 grant from NSF to improve mentoring. The College's Scholars Program coordinates our efforts with the Coalition.