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2015 Spring Dropouts and Drop-ins

Many Enroll, Few Finish, Moocs March On: How Online Courses Are Changing Higher Ed

When Damilare Oladapo looks back at his undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, he says that when it comes to his education, he only made one mistake. “I really wanted to focus on graduating,” says the Nigerian-born English major. “I saw school as a short-distance race instead of a marathon.” Oladapo still loves literature and considers […]

The Struggle to Be First: First-Gen Students May Be Torn Between College and Home

Currently, 17 percent of Berkeley undergrads are first-generation—a group that struggles to cope with the transition to college. When Gabriela Ledezma was accepted at UC Berkeley as a transfer student from Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier a few years ago, she was delighted. Her family, not so much. “My mom said, why don’t you […]

Myth of the Dropout: “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” Never Really Described Berkeley Ethos

Timothy Leary’s dead, but his legend lives on—albeit on life support. The acid guru died at his home in Beverly Hills in 1996 at age 75. By then he was no longer the Pied Piper he’d once been, the public figure whose most popular slogan, “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” made him the bogeyman […]

The Ballad of John and Helen: Berkeley-Based Meyer Sound Are Global Audio Pioneers

Drop out. It’s such a leaden term. Yes, yes, Helen Brodsky dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1968, dashing the hopes and dreams of her Cal alumni-laden family. Before even declaring a major (she was leaning toward Russian Lit), she and her new boyfriend, John Meyer, an autodidact with a gift for tinkering and engineering, […]

From London to Lynch: Take Our Gallery Tour Through the Berkeley Dropout Hall of Fame

OK, we know it’s unusual for an alumni magazine to acknowledge, let alone celebrate, its dropouts. Berkeley is different. And that uniqueness is part of what draws people here—not just students and professors, but folks of all walks, many of whom are distinguished in their fields or famous for their exploits. Here in this ad […]

From Ishi to Hillary: Take Our Gallery Tour Through the Berkeley Drop-in Hall of Fame

In countless ways, Berkeley is undeniably different. And that uniqueness is part of what draws people here—not just students and professors, but folks of all walks, many of whom are distinguished in their fields or famous for their exploits. The Spring issue of California magazine celebrates both Berkeley’s dropouts and its drop-ins with two ad […]

Learning to Listen: Why Better Health Care May Start with a Simple “How Are You?”

After her second above-the-knee amputation, Ms. G., a 56-year-old woman with diabetes mellitus, started refusing her dialysis and wouldn’t tell the medical team why. Jodi Halpern, hen just a trainee on the psychiatric service, was sent to investigate. On entering the hospital room, Halpern recalls finding the woman in agonizing pain. When Halpern sat down […]

Natural by Design: Next-Gen Robots Run, Flap, Crawl—and Talk to Each Other

Imagine a city in the near future devastated by a powerful earthquake. Rescue workers arrive and unleash hundreds of tiny robots. Some of these robots flap into the air with “wings,” sending images of the disaster area to the ground team—a swarm of insect-like devices the size of a matchbox that scuttle over the concrete […]

Researching Discontent: Here’s Why a Regime May Need—and Secretly Want—Protests

“Do you really want to have secret informants in every single village?” It’s a question Peter L. Lorentzen has pondered quite a bit. After all, he’s an expert in uncovering discontent among the masses within authoritarian regimes. Secret informants, he asserts, are expensive and not always accurate. So the world’s dictators are likely using other […]

Killing It in Berkeley: Richard Pryor Crushed His ‘Cosby’ to Become Comedy’s Top Badass

Richard Pryor was snoozing, draped across the back seat of a car driven by an erudite, bespectacled white man named Alan Farley. It was February of 1971 and Pryor was fleeing Los Angeles, trailing personal and professional casualties: three children with three different women, a few high-profile onstage breakdowns, two parents recently deceased, a flop […]

Silicon Valley’s Merry Prankster Put His Degree on Hold and Reshaped the World

The recipients of the Cal Alumni Association’s Alum of the Year Award are an impressive group, to say the least. The list includes decorated military officers, Supreme Court justices, Nobel laureates, leading industrialists, and renowned authors. None, as far as we know, ever dropped out of the University. That has now changed with the addition […]

Berkeley Graduate Lecture