Cal Culture

Clark Kerr’s Classic: The Uses of the University Turns 50

Fifty years ago, Clark Kerr, president of the University of California, delivered a speech at Harvard about the university’s role; his talk would roil academe. Some would praise him for delivering an incisive and unflinching description of the modern university, while others would savage him for advocating a “factory” that served industry and government at the expense of students and higher education.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

University Champion

You would not have picked 17-year-old William Powers Jr. for a firebrand when he drove his ’55 Chevy to campus in 1963. He was a gangly blue-eyed kid, nervous, certain that everybody was smarter than he was. He was a chemistry major but always avoided raising his hand in class. The Free Speech Movement would start the next year, but he wouldn’t be part of it.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Tough Stance: A Q&A With the Authors Who Say Cal Athletics Should Learn from Stanford

All hell was breaking loose over UC Berkeley’s abysmal graduation rates for football and men’s basketball players as California magazine was doing final edits on the Winter 2013 issue. That magazine was to include an in-depth interview with the authors of a paper on the Cal Athletics program, which, in singling out graduation rates and the commercialization of sports on campus, helped spark the recent controversy.

“Fund Me:” Researchers who can’t get corporate funding forced to get creative

With government funding more scarce, corporations have stepped in to underwrite an increasing amount of research in academia—as we’ve reported, industry now accounts for about 10 percent of funding for research at UC Berkeley, double the percentage it was two decades ago. But what about the iconoclastic researchers—the ones whose work is either irrelevant to, or at cross-purposes with, the profit-minded interests of corporate funders?

Cal lecturer’s email to students goes viral: “Why I am not canceling class tomorrow”

“I email my students all the time—that isn’t unusual,” Alexander Coward tells us. “What is very unusual is for one of those emails to go viral.”

The UC Berkeley’s math lecturer’s surprise is understandable. Among the torrent of listicles, kitty gifs, and youtube clips depicting moderate-to-severe injury that seize the imagination of the Internet daily, an email from a professor to his 800 students about the scheduling details of his class is hardly the stuff that memes are made of.

Pied Paupers? Devoted Cal Band keeps marching on a shoestring budget

The Cal Band is an indubitably upbeat bunch, its can-do spirit personified in longtime band director Robert Calonico. Which is why—despite being significantly underfunded and forced to foot many of their own expenses in support of the University—the band’s director and musicians prefer to stress how grateful they are for what they do receive.

But not everyone is so unfailingly optimistic.

Bad News Bears: Report dings Cal’s strikingly low admissions bar for student athletes

If they were winning, the news might not seem so bad. But they’re not. And it is.

Cal football is currently 1-10 on the season and has the worst-ranked defense in the country. As of the latest available statistics, they also have the lowest graduation rates of any BCS school—that is, of any major college football program in the country. Only 44 percent of players admitted between 2003 and 2006 graduated within a six-year time frame.

For the men’s basketball team, the rate was even lower—just 38 percent.

A Walk on the Eccentric Side: Walking tours peruse the ins and outs of Berkeley

Their faces concealed under paper-bag masks, three protesters chant “Down with Emergency! Free India Now!”—an anachronistic reference to a 19-month period in the 1970s when India was essentially a police state. But this Berkeley demonstration is not being staged by a band of confused time travelers.

It is instead a recreation of a real event from the rich history of the Cal campus—and a key stop on the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour.

“Not Enough” from Napolitano: Critics balk at $5 million in aid to undocumented students

New UC President Janet Napolitano’s announcement of a $5 million aid package for undocumented immigrant students appears to have done little—well, make that nothing—to assuage those most fiercely opposed to her appointment. If anything, it has sharpened the attacks. Characterizing the aid as an insincere response meant to deflect criticism, they continue to demand she simply resign.

Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another

The first time Larry Zhou traveled outside of China, it was to start his freshman year at Berkeley in 2010. The University’s bid to admit more international students—they would enhance campus diversity and pay sticker-price tuition—brought a surge of foreign arrivals with Zhou. More than a third came from Chinese territories.

Zhou, now a senior, had studied British English in high school in Suzhou, about 65 miles west of Shanghai. He did so well on a language test that his school encouraged him to study abroad, and he garnered a high verbal SAT score as well.

Raspberry Ratified: But have such Berkeley student votes ever accomplished anything?

Janet Napolitano may have earned the support of the UC Board of Regents, but at Berkeley, the Associated Students of the University of California are not so easily swayed.

Convening for their weekly meeting, the student senators of ASUC have offered their collective assessment of the UC system’s controversial new president. And, lo, the former Homeland Security chief has been found wanting.

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