In the fall of 2017, the #MeToo movement drew national headlines that focused the country’s attention on the issue of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. The poignant narratives courageously shared as part of #MeToo make sexual harassment feel viscerally real, even to people who may think they have largely been spared from its effects. Such stories powerfully illustrate the depth and lasting nature of sexual harassment’s impact in our society.
Even though college students and faculty rarely wear the long, black medieval gowns symbolic of their status, the term “town and gown” still denotes the relationship between a college or university and its local community. The quality of that relationship can vary over time, as it has here, when interests converge and diverge. Yet, our campus and neighboring communities all benefit when we are able to collaborate for the greater good. And that is exactly what we are now doing to address the paired, pressing challenges of housing and homelessness, on our campus and in our city.
It is a time of great change both at Berkeley and across all of higher education. Many of the parameters that shape colleges and universities are undergoing rapid transformation—funding models, student expectations, demographics, the ways in which we receive and communicate information. In order to thrive in this environment and era of change, I believe that we must collectively establish a cohesive, well-reasoned, and ambitious vision of what our university should be in order to properly set institutional priorities and determine campus investments.
Janet Napolitano and I met in her office in downtown Oakland on the afternoon of November 4, 2016, just four days before Hillary Rodham Clinton was thwarted in her attempt to make history by becoming the first woman president of the United States of America.
Some people thought that Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona and Secretary of Homeland Security in the first Obama administration, might herself have been a candidate for the White House. Instead, she became the first woman president of the University of California in 2013.