Cal Culture

Elements of Branding

Brands comprise a package of sensorial elements meant to promise unique value and to maximize awareness and recognition of the product, service, or entity they stand for. Ideally the brand bundle should evoke an emotional response, a resonance in the eye and mind that helps to bond the viewer to the product or service. One element of this is the logo, usually a graphic symbol. To the public, a logo should be a reminder of a company, service, institution, or product; to the customer, it’s a familiar and trusted symbol; and to staff, it’s a point of belonging.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

The Road Not Taken: A Berkeley Bard from the 60s Became Rare Breed—the Trucker Poet

There are cowboy poets, of course—so many that cowpoke poesy conferences, or “gatherings,” are held regularly in most of the western states. But while there are plenty of country and western song lyrics about truckers (“I got ten forward gears and a Sweet Georgia overdrive;  I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide”), trucker poets are a scarcer breed.

Jogs for Jill: Runs Honoring Late Cal Coxswain Net $500,000 to Combat Lung Cancer

More than 1,200 runners, walkers, strollers and joggers are expected to gather March 16 th for the fifth annual Jog For Jill, a 5-K course around UC Berkeley’s campus in honor of Jill Costello—a political economy major who died from lung cancer just a few weeks after graduating from Cal in 2010.

Not Licked Yet: The Fight to Keep an Iconic UC Observatory Open

A move to pare a modest $1.8 million from UC’s operations budget has blown up into a public relations storm, with the fury directed at the Office of the President. That’s because the savings would result from halting funding for Mount Hamilton’s Lick Observatory, the world’s first permanent mountain summit observatory and a facility still responsible for major cosmological findings—most recently the discovery of scads of earth-like exoplanets.

California Universities Form Alliance to Diversify the Top of the Ivory Tower

Throughout academia, key fields remain decidedly male and monochromatic—particularly math, engineering, and the physical and computer sciences. And despite the pride it takes in being progressive, UC Berkeley is no exception.

That’s why this week the university announced it is forming an alliance with Caltech, UCLA, and Stanford to encourage more underrepresented minority Ph.D. candidates to pursue postdoc and faculty positions within these fields.

Goalball in Blindfolds, Soccer in Wheelchairs: Cal Busts Barriers to Competitive Sports

Ann Kwong could not see the ball hurtling toward her, but she knew who had thrown it—a member of UC Berkeley’s rugby team easily twice her size. Lying on the gym floor, she could hear its insistent rattle and sense the speed.  She tensed for the impact as the ball hit her thighs with a solid thwak.

Spectators winced. As for Kwong, she jumped up and hurled the ball back.

“I’m usually a safe person,” she says, “but this has taught me to take risks. You just have to dive on the ball.”

A Brain Busy Cataloging All Things Berkeley: True Confessions of a Cal Tour Guide

I stared out at a mass of vibrating middle school students awaiting their campus tour. Before unleashing them on me, someone thought it would be a great idea to let them get energy drinks and coffees. Before me, 7th grade girls chugged Rockstars and one boy complained that his mocha needed more sugar. I wanted to yell “No! You cannot complain about needing energy! You are 12. You don’t know what it’s like to pull an all-nighter and write 25-page papers. Also, it’s a mocha, it basically IS sugar!”

Drivin’ on Sunshine: Cal Team Is Crafting Solar-Powered Car for National Race

As flocks of wild turkeys and geese look on, about 50 members of the UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle Team—aka CalSol—are laboring from dawn to dusk every day at the Richmond Field Station, a 152-acre lot six miles northwest of campus. Their goal: the construction of “Zephyr,” a solar-powered car that can cruise along at 55 miles per hour on only the energy needed for a portable hairdryer.

It’s Cal’s latest entry in an international collegiate competition that has been going on since the early 1990s, before many of CalSol’s current members were born.

Warm Hearts and Feet: Students To Distribute Sleeping Bags to Homeless

The December chill that proved frigidly fatal to several homeless people in the Bay Area also has spurred a team of students at UC Berkeley and San Jose State into action. They helped launched the Sleeping Bag Drive—which on Friday will begin distributing 300 pairs of wool socks, beanies, and zero-degree sleeping bags to the vulnerable communities.

“It’s a scary thing that people are dying,” says Taliah Mirmalek, a Cal senior majoring in political science and rhetoric. “We were just happy to be able to share the opportunity to do something about it.”

The NSA, the FBI, and Cal

Long before Edward Snowden’s disclosures about massive National Security Agency surveillance programs like Prism and Bullrun, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI cast a wide intelligence net over the nation, especially public institutions, including the University of California.

Then, as now, the nation entrusted its intelligence agencies with great power and secrecy to protect it from foreign threats. During the Cold War, it was the Soviet Union. Today it is al-Qaeda terrorists.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Out of the Gate

We are cycling through Thailand in the scorching heat. Carlos and I arrived in Bangkok six days ago, where we met our friend Laura to plan our cycle tour through Southeast Asia. This is our second day riding and we’re still learning how to find and buy street food.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Finals With Fido: Therapy Pups Visit Cal to Soothe Students’ Stress

Clusters of Cal students burst into cheers outside Moffitt Library on Tuesday as they watched a fluffy blonde terrier perform “high-five” tricks and a bulldog roll over, her tongue—and belly—sticking out. For a few minutes, at least, the frenzy of finals had dissipated.

Said senior Emiko Minatoya-Shields: “I’m pretty sure you could just sob into their necks if you had just failed something.”

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.


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