Cal Culture

All That Jazz: Conservatory Is Nation’s First Independent Degree-Granting Institute Devoted to Jazz

Some early New Orleans jazz trumpeters performed with a handkerchief draped over their fingers, to prevent anyone from stealing their hottest licks. Other musicians more generously shared their hard-won knowledge, but for most of the music’s history, aspiring jazz players picked up information wherever they could, observing more experienced players at work on the bandstand and memorizing solos by wearing out the grooves on treasured recordings.

Aiming To Be a Small World After All: Cal’s Plan to Shrink a Big, ‘Impersonal’ Campus

Peter Chernin loved his time as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The media mogul—who served as president and chief operating officer of News Corp for more than a decade, and now owns his own media, technology and entertainment group—has attributed his success in part to the English degree he earned in 1974: To be a good leader, he’s said, you need empathy, and the best way to learn empathy is to study literature.

When Cal’s Human-Powered Vehicle Snapped in Two, Nobody Expected How it Would End

Things were looking bleak for the UC Berkeley Human Powered Vehicle Team last weekend, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.

The team, all engineering majors, were on the verge of their big competition: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Human Powered Vehicle Competition West, in Santa Clara. Rider Andrew Taylor had just started his practice run on Saturday morning when Reuben, the state-of-the-art vehicle that he and his cohorts had spent seven months building, crashed on the first lap.

Cal Architecture Grad Asks Fellow Alums to Urge Toy Titan: LEGO My Campanile

Michael Lin liked playing with Legos as a kid. In fact, he couldn’t get enough of the strangely compelling little plastic building blocks. Literally.

“My family wasn’t wealthy, so I never had as many as I wanted,” Lin recalls. “But I was fascinated with them, with their possibilities.”

Igniting Protest: Will UC Make History By Pulling the Plug on Fossil Fuel Investments?

When 29-year-old UC Berkeley student Ophir Bruck spotted Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, on her way to a University of California Regents meeting, he was holding on to a key that he hoped she wouldn’t refuse.

“We’re here to call on the UC Regents to take bold action on climate change,” Bruck told Lansing last May, as she walked past 58 chanting students chained to two homemade structures designed to represent oil drilling rigs. “Will you symbolically unlock us from a future of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos?”

Going to Bat for Earl Robinson: “We’ve Got to Do Something to Help Robbie.”

Update: A memorial service for Earl Robinson, who died on Independence Day from complications of congestive heart failure, was held last Friday, July 25, at the site he selected before his death: the Cal Alumni House. The attendees, numbering in the hundreds, used up all the available seats and standing room, finally spilling out onto the Alumni House patio.

Whatever Floats their Boat: Cal Team’s Canoe of Concrete Edged Out in Competition

Update: Well, you can’t win ‘em all. The Cal Concrete Canoe team finished fourth at the Mid-Pacific Regional Competition at Cal State Fresno on April 5, behind third place finisher Sacramento State; second place finisher Tongji University from Shanghai, China; and the Golden Bears’ arch-rivals, the University of Nevada-Reno Wolfpack. The fourth place finish means the record-winning Bears will miss this year’s national competition. “Considering all the challenges we faced, we’re not too surprised,” says team leader Alvin Wong.

Cardinal Conquest: Cal and Stanford Teams Compete in April ‘Big Game’ Birdwatching

Update: Alas, the sparrows will sing of Berkeley’s victory another day: Although Cal logged 64 species in the April birding contest, Stanford identified 75, including the white-throated sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, lark sparrow and savannah sparrow—and apparently, not a single cardinal.  

In the misty glade, a Pacific wren spots a worm in the grass and swoops down from its perch. Little does it know that it will soon be not just the pursuer, but the pursued.

The Bear, Re-Branded: Cal Replaces Its Live-and-Let-Live Mascot With Vicious New Model

Like Memorial Stadium, the brand identity of Cal Athletics has recently been renovated. Nothing too radical, mind you; the colors are unchanged and the Cal script remains the chief identifier. The only big change is the new bear logo. Gone is the striding giant of yesteryear, its stately silhouette imparting a certain timeless nobility to football helmets and hoodies. The new bear does not pass by. The new bear charges—teeth bared, ears back, eyes narrowed.

The old bear was live and let live.

The new bear is fixin’ to maul your @$$.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Kabam? Ka-Ching: Naming Rights Bring Cash to Campus

Even on a football field it sometimes helps to tread lightly. That’s why as Berkeley administrators were deciding how to pay down the $445 million price tag associated with the retrofit and expansion project at California Memorial Stadium, the idea of selling naming rights to the structure itself was never on the table.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

A Lunch at Chez Panisse Inspired the Imagination, the Palate and a Dissertation

If you’re going for a Ph.D. in business, there are plenty of American universities where you can get this prized degree, but only one of them is less than a mile from the birthplace of California cuisine. Sohyeong Kim was an aspiring Ph.D. student on the day in 2009 when her faculty advisor took her to lunch at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, changing both her outlook on eating and her dissertation topic.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

In on the Ground Floor: Would My Investment in a Friend’s Scheme Really Seal My Fortune?

Graduation was near and other seniors were scrambling for work. I knew I was set. I had met a brilliant entrepreneur and was investing my time and savings in his sure-fire venture that guaranteed me both a job and untold millions.

His plan was literally airtight: Create a device that would improve upon the highest volume manufactured product—the sealed bags used for everything from dry macaroni to potato chips.

And what was wrong with those bags? They weren’t re-sealable.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

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