Director’s Chair: Winter 2014

Peace and conflict studies, corporate finance, Buddhist psychology, organizational behavior, philosophy of the mind, the science of stress and coping. While seemingly disparate subjects of varying esoteric levels, they are all united by Berkeley. This fascinating range of diverse subject matter is perfectly indicative of so much that makes Berkeley great.

In fact, these were all courses I took while an undergraduate at Cal in the late 1980s. And more than a syllabus of subject matter, these varied areas of academic exploration have for me long defined my pride and enthusiasm for my Berkeley experience. I would venture to guess I’m not the only Cal grad with such experiences. Tens of thousands of us share similar stories of fascinating courses, compelling professors, brilliant fellow students, stimulating conversations, and enlightening cultural experiences. And though there may be other universities with compelling academic offerings, few provide such expansive and comprehensive intellectual excellence as Berkeley. Certainly, that’s one of many reasons Berkeley was just ranked the third best university in the world according to U.S. News and World Report’s October 2014 Global University rankings. Ahead of Stanford, I might add. But I digress!

Just as in 1989, today I am energized and inspired by the diversity of thought and the plurality of intellectual discourse that prevails here at Cal. The incredible range of options and perspectives challenges me to think beyond myself (yes, I’m a fan of the Haas School of Business mission statement). The amazing people I meet every day inspire me to grow and learn and expand my perspectives. I feel very grateful to be a part of such a dynamic and engaging community. I also feel a great responsibility.

As the Executive Director of the Cal Alumni Association,it is very important to me that our programs and content represent the diversity, excellence, forward thinking, and global perspectives of the Cal alumni community. Of course, we want to offer absolutely every possible program and event. However, as a self-funded nonprofit organization we must be judicious and thoughtful and prioritize our efforts. One thing we learned at Cal was resourcefulness, and we use these lessons every day at CAA! However, even in a climate of finite resources, I am proud of the scope and scale of high-impact work emanating from this proud organization: a rapidly expanding career networking initiative called The Berkeley Network, thriving social networking programs through an energetic network of 80 CAA alumni chapters, intellectual and cultural events throughout California, a renowned global travel program, this thought-provoking magazine, scholarship and student outreach programs, and gorgeous Sierra Nevada retreats for our alumni and their family and friends.

Just like Cal’s diverse intellectual experiences that defined our days as students, your alumni association offers this diverse range of experiences designed to stoke your Cal spirit and invigorate your mind. And remember, you always have a home here at Cal. The Alumni House is your lounge, your reading room, and your coffee stop on campus. When you come back to Cal to soak up the exceptional dynamism of our leading global University, come and visit us and learn more about all that we offering you.

Whether you’re a philosopher, marketer, venture capitalist, scientist, social worker, educator, or public leader, you are Cal. And together, we are Berkeley. For life.

Jefferson C.M. Coombs ’89,
Executive Director Cal Alumni Association

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