Golden Bears forever, Bob and Sheryl Wong are celebrating a combined 100 years at Cal—first as students, then as volunteers, philanthropists, and now as Builders of Berkeley.
Sheryl ’67, C. Mult. ’68, whose parents also attended Berkeley, loved Cal the minute she stepped on campus. She believes navigating Cal is as much a learning experience as the academic side. “So much of the experience of college is being there, making friends, meeting people you would never have met, experiencing the diversity—the whole gamut of college life. I would hate to see colleges become only online,” says Sheryl. “At Cal we were taught how to think, how to problem solve.” “If you can get through the program at Cal, you can get through anything,” adds Bob ’68.
“We are visible and volunteer to give an example to other Asians and encourage them to be philanthropic,” says Bob. “It is important to be visible,” agrees Sheryl, but she also thinks there are more Asians engaged in philanthropy at Berkeley now. “We are Californians, part of the US,” she notes. “We’ve benefited from what we got out of Berkeley, so we should stand up and be counted. Otherwise, we would prefer to not be so visible.”
They see cost as one of the great challenges for students, a circumstance they help ease with The Robert and Sheryl Wong Achievement Award Scholarship. Sheryl believes students face “more of a struggle on a daily basis.” More students depend on the UC Berkeley Food Pantry. Housing adds more pressure. “Cal tries to guarantee housing for all freshmen,” she says. “But after that it is very tough. Students live further away because of housing costs. They need 24/7 library hours because commuting takes so much time.”
Bob and Sheryl are enthusiastic supporters of the Center for Connected Learning at Moffitt Library, which provides a 24/7 collaborative projects workspace for students. The project is gaining major support in part from Bob and Sheryl’s ambassadorship and leadership as well as their vision to support the project early on. “This resource is badly needed by students and a big win for Cal,” says University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer Jeffrey MacKie-Mason. “Sheryl and Bob are passionate about public higher education. They have been involved for decades, as volunteers and financially. They are wonderful people, magnificent in leading by example with their time, money, and passion.”
In honor of Bob and Sheryl’s 50th reunions, they made pledges to five campus units, including the Cal Alumni Association, Moffitt Library, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the International House, and the College of Environmental Design. Their generous commitment also earned them a place on the Builders of Berkeley monument, which honors the vision, leadership, and commitment of the university’s leading benefactors since its founding in 1868.
“We made a conscious decision to be Builders of Berkeley,” Bob says. “We’ve given to Cal for as long as we’ve been involved. It’s grown each year, but has also been constant. Giving small amounts consistently is important.”
Sheryl is a trustee of the University of California Berkeley Foundation and a former president of the Library Advisory Board. Bob supports diverse organizations, including Cal Advocacy, Friends of Athletics, Class Campaigns Volunteers, the Gift Planning Stewardship Program, and the International House. He is also a member of the Cal Alumni Chinese Chapter.
Bob and Sheryl exemplify what it means to passionately pursue and achieve philanthropic goals in support of Cal. Their giving is matched with their time and talents. Congratulations to Bob and Sheryl on their Cal reunions and becoming Builders of Berkeley.