From the moment he stepped onto campus in 1952, Peter Van Houten ’56 embraced every opportunity at UC Berkeley. He played baseball and volleyball, and participated in ROTC, student government, and the Order of the Golden Bear—all while earning grades that earned him the Departmental Citation in his major. “I was very active and enjoyed it greatly,” Van Houten recalls, “I love (UC Berkeley) with all my heart.”
Peter’s passion flourished and his commitment grew deeper after completing his B.A. in Physical Education. He served as an Associate Dean of Students and became the first Dean of Orientations. Later, he earned his M.A. and Ed.D. in Education at UC Berkeley. His 40-year career on campus included serving as the Chancellor’s Representative to the ASUC Senate and as director of the Graduate School Services. Peter’s dedication to campus was uninterrupted. He was awarded the Berkeley Citation when he retired in 2000 and became a tireless CAA volunteer.
Today, Peter volunteers for YES Berkeley! Student Recruitment, participating in New Student Receptions and college fairs. He believes his work is especially important in remote high schools, “Rural schools may not have an understanding of what Berkeley is all about. I love talking to students and encouraging them to attend Cal.”
Peter acknowledges many of the students who are accepted to Cal have opportunities to attend other prestigious universities. “Private schools can provide 100% financing for these students. It is important [for Berkeley] to be in there competing for them. I want to get the best students to attend Cal.” YES Berkeley! Student Recruitment coordinated 28 alumni-hosted New Student Receptions this past spring and provided admitted students a chance to hear personally from alumni.
“There is a big need for alumni to be active and show the [Cal] flag,” adds Van Houten. “This is an opportunity to address students’ concerns and ask ‘What is important to you?’ Alumni provide solid advice and favorable impressions of Berkeley.” Peter has participated in yield events since the 1960s and has helped encourage hundreds of students, many of whom became his personal friends, to attend Cal.
Peter’s devotion to bringing the best students to campus is eclipsed only by his passion to carry the flag for UC Berkeley. “Working with students, particularly first-generation college-bound students, and pushing them over the top is a labor of love. From where I stand, the sun rises and sets in Berkeley.”