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Keegan Houser / UC Regents

History and Traditions

UC Berkeley’s first graduating class chartered the Cal Alumni Association (CAA) in 1872 to promote “good fellowship and kindly feelings among its members and the fostering of liberal and scientific culture on the Pacific Coast.” While CAA has expanded and transformed since 1872, its long tradition of supporting current students and keeping alumni engaged with UC Berkeley remains the same.


CAA supports high-achieving students with financial need through our Alumni Scholars Program, with the generous support of donors and alumni.

Bob and Sheryl Wong with one of their Alumni Scholars. Bob and Sheryl Wong with one of their Alumni Scholars. Image by Katherine Fiordalis | Cal Alumni Association

Alumni Chapters

Alumni can join one of more than 90 regional and identity-based Alumni Chapters to stay connected with each other, CAA, and UC Berkeley.

Alumni Chapters
Alumni on the campanile esplanade Keegan Houser / UC Regents

The Achievement Awards at Berkeley Charter Gala

The annual Charter Gala event commemorates the founding of the University of California in 1868 and has become a key part of celebrating Cal. Formerly student-run, Charter Gala now features formal celebrations of the university and the presentation of the Achievement Awards, including the distinguished Alum of the Year. Past honorees include Nobel Prize-winning chemist Yuan T. Lee, Ph.D. ’65, Steve Wozniak ’86, and Kevin Chou ’02.

Diane Greene Diane Greene M.S. '88 | Image by Marcus Edwards

Lair of the Golden Bear

Since its opening in 1949 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the Lair of the Golden Bear has served as a family favorite for summer vacation and outdoor recreation.

Lair cabin with Cal flag outside

California Magazine

Launched in 1897 as a monthly periodical, California magazine has shared news, interviews, and features that keep alumni apprised of Cal, its culture, and its alumni. California‘s readers connect to the world of Berkeley—and Berkeley in the world.

Close-up image of a California magazine spread with a person's hands holding the magazine Photo credit: Cal Alumni Association

Historic Highlights


Humble origins, soaring ideals.
Humble origins, soaring ideals.

UC Berkeley’s first graduating class charters the Alumni Association to continue the relationships between alumni and the university.


The charter class of the University of California, consisting of twelve students nicknamed the “Founding Fathers,” graduates.


The first Charter Day, a student-organized event with poetry, oratory, and musical performances. The event eventually became a formal celebration of UC Berkeley organized by the university.


Advancing justice, equity, literature, and ecology.
Advancing justice, equity, literature, and ecology.

The Prytanean Society, the oldest collegiate women’s honors society in the US, is founded.


The alumni office’s responsibilities expand to include maintaining alumni address records, supporting alumni employment, organizing alumni clubs, and publishing the California Alumni Weekly.


CAA establishes The Leadership Award, a one-year, merit-based scholarship that recognizes undergraduate student leaders.


General James Doolittle ’22 is named the first Alumnus of the Year.


The Lair in Pinecrest opens to campers. The Lair was part of a post-war effort to reinvigorate alumni’s sense of connection to the university.


With the help of about 18,000 alumni, Alumni House is built on the UC Berkeley campus.


CAA names its first Alumna of the Year, Lillian Moller Gilbreth ’00, M.A. ’02.


The Lair’s Camp Blue campsite opens.


The California Alumni Association leads its first alumni tour, launching what would become the Cal Discoveries Travel program. The 29-day tour visited Japan, Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. $1,795 per person included all transportation, lodging, many meals, tour guides, and other extras.


Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl proposes creating a scholarship for first-generation, low-income students. This becomes realized in 1999 as The Achievement Award Program (TAAP).


Honoring our past by caring for our future.
Honoring our past by caring for our future.

The Lair’s third campsite, Camp Oski, opens.


CAA inaugurates the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by Young Alumni in honor of Mark Bingham ’93, who died on 9/11 on United Airlines Flight 93. The first awardee was Wayne Lee ’91.


In partnership with the San Francisco Foundation, CAA inaugurates the African American Initiative (AAI) scholarship to incoming undergraduates who demonstrate leadership potential and interest in contributing to the Black community at Cal.


CAA celebrates The Achievement Award Program’s 20th anniversary with a fundraising dinner featuring stories from TAAP’s past and present undergraduate scholars.


The Cal Alumni Association Native American Scholarship (CAANAS), a one-year, merit-based award that recognizes Native American students at UC Berkeley for leadership, community involvement, and contributions to the Indigenous community, is established. This scholarship is available to all Native American students at Cal, including incoming first-year and junior transfer students.


The Graduate Wine Collective, CAA’s alumni wine club featuring wines crafted by Berkeley alumni, launches.


The Cal Alumni Association celebrates its 150th anniversary.

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