The year was 1996 and Nicholas Dirks, now Berkeley’s newest chancellor, had just traveled from the University of Michigan to Columbia University to talk about joining Columbia’s history and anthropology departments. There was a hunger strike going on there at the time—a group of students were advocating for the creation of a department of ethnic studies—and he had landed right in the middle of it.
To call it a birthday party would be a bit of a stretch.
It was my 22nd—not a particularly celebration-worthy year to begin with. I also didn’t have any friends with whom to celebrate. I was only a couple months into what would be a year-long stint as an intern at The Bakersfield Californian, and furthermore—since I was in the employ of a newspaper reporting news—planning ahead was a shady proposition.
The wide reach of Frank Davis’s achievements and travels pretty much necessitates a search engine, and he tends to punctuate his sentences with the smiling exhortation, “You could look it up!”
During his nine years in the job, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau oversaw a successful capital campaign, orchestrated a $320 million stadium renovation, stabilized the University’s budget, and implemented a plan for giving tuition breaks to middle-class students. His accomplishments occurred during what he describes as “an extraordinary period in the history of the University of California,” when an economic downturn precipitated state funding cuts, tuition increases, campus layoffs, and student protests.
The sun hangs low over Manhattan Beach, giving the ocean a SoCal-postcard glow. Inside a fratty, nautically themed bar, Rod Benson is doing shots of vodka with his buddies. As usual, he has drawn a crowd. A fireplug-shaped guy with a tiny, feral mustache tries to impress Benson with his knowledge of Krav Maga, the Israeli martial art. A couple of blonde, tattooed women trade flirty insults with him. On the margins, a shirtless and very sunburned dude sways on his feet, drawn to the spectacle.
The University attracts from all the world’s pathways, be they paved or unpaved, clamorous or still, open or closed—a dazzling array of brainpower hitched to goodwill.
Of all the people from around the globe who study or work at Cal, or do both, we have chosen a disparate quartet who arrived at zip code 94720 from three continents and four countries, including this one.
In 1964, Ansel Adams, the great landscape photographer, was commissioned by UC President Clark Kerr to produce a portfolio celebrating the University, its work, its people, its prospects.
On Friday, March 10, 1961, FBI agents Donald Jones and John Hood arrived at the Berkeley campus for a secret meeting. They had been summoned by Alex C. Sherriffs, a professor of psychology and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, and were soon seated in his Dwinelle Hall office. The psychologist presented a disturbing diagnosis of the Berkeley student body.
The 30th anniversary of the The Play approaches this fall with its legion of honor seemingly set in stone: The Fantastic Four—Kevin Moen, Richard Rodgers, Dwight Garner, and Mariet Ford—earned their spot in history with a touchdown that seemed to flout the space–time continuum; Stanford trombonist Gary Tyrrell gave the legends an amiable foil, absorbing his end zone mugging with panache; and the wonder of it all will live forever in a beautifully unhinged radio call. Thank you, Joe Starkey.
Anthony Ervin sits in the stands at the Spieker Aquatics Complex and gazes through the dark lenses of his Ray-Bans. At 31, he scarcely resembles the fresh-faced kid who set a world record then won gold and silver in swimming at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. He was just 19, and seemed destined to win more Olympic medals.
The news was delivered at a press conference in September. Reading from a statement, Chancellor Birgeneau announced that at the end of this academic year men’s and women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse, and men’s baseball would no longer represent the University in intercollegiate competition. Additionally, men’s rubgy, historically Cal’s most dominant program, would be re-designated a “varsity-club” sport.
California magazine: You and I first talked before the 2008 Olympics. You had just graduated, I remember, and even then we discussed the tenuous future of collegiate men’s gymnastics.
Tim McNeill: It’s always an issue, just based on how few teams are left.
CM: When you started in the sport, how many teams were there?
When my grandparents died and it was time to sell their Castro Valley home, I became the keeper of the University of California, Berkeley heirlooms. My great-grandmother’s 1919 yearbook. The wobbly blue-and-gold teddy bear my grandmother got when my mother was born. A set of 1943 Berkeley-edition Wedgwood plates, each depicting a campus building with the monumental drama of a Mount Rushmore print.
Russell White ’93, the all-time leading rusher in Cal football history, sat alone on a Friday afternoon late last fall, watching from the bleachers as Castlemont High kicked off against East Oakland rival Skyline. At the time, White was nominally a Castlemont coach, but as an “assistant offensive coordinator” he was about eighth on the depth chart. Instead of standing on the sidelines during the game, he’d climbed into the stands and was talking to the head coach via headset.