UC Berkeley political geography doctoral student and Fulbright scholar William Carter was one of two university students recognized with the inaugural Regents Foster Youth Award at a UC Board of Regents meeting Thursday.
UC President Michael Drake also used the opportunity to recognize the recipients of the 2022 President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership. According to Drake, the university focused on student action against climate change during the decision-making process.
“William is holding us all accountable by ensuring that our students have what they need to thrive and feel a true sense of belonging in our campus community,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ at the meeting. “We’re made better by virtue of his presence and participation.”
The board also heard remarks from the undergraduate and graduate student representatives from the UC Student Association, or UCSA.
Alex Niles, UCSA chair of government relations, alleged that students are not comfortable with current university policing measures.
“Students, particularly students of color, are not safe with the way UC currently does policing,” Niles said during the meeting. “Students don’t have confidence that the way the community safety plan is being implemented is going to lead to safety in our communities or solve existing issues.”
Christ later provided a strategic campus overview to the academic and finance committees during a joint meeting. She highlighted the increased diversity of students and ladder faculty, and thanked the governor and state legislature for their support during the enrollment crisis last spring.
She did note, however, that as the oldest of the UC campuses, UC Berkeley faces approximately $8.5 billion in deferred maintenance and seismic retrofitting costs with no consistent funding source.
“None of this is glamorous,” Christ said at the meeting. “(UC) Berkeley has 40% of the deferred maintenance in the system. It, and the seismic conditions of our buildings, are the most serious threats to (UC) Berkeley’s excellence.”
According to Christ, UC Berkeley can only house approximately 20% of its students, 10 percentage points lower than any of the other nine university campuses.
“We’re going to have to get real at some point in this conversation,” said Regent Jonathan Sures at the meeting. “On one hand, we want to increase enrollment and bring more students to Berkeley, and on the other hand, we have no place to put them.”
Christ highlighted two off-campus sites as potential places for development: Moffett Field, which would primarily concentrate on an aerospace program partnership with NASA, and the Richmond Field Station, a 180-acre site that could be developed to house research and education opportunities.
However, the best short-term option would be to expand capacity for online learning, according to Christ.
Christ also highlighted the proposal for a College of Computing, Data Science and Society. It would be the first new college at UC Berkeley in more than 50 years. Plans to develop the college will be presented at the January regents meeting.
“Berkeley today is a world-leading campus, characterized by brilliant students, faculty and staff, who teach, discover, innovate, learn and challenge society to realize its full potential, but it’s at the risk of decline due to structural issues,” Christ said at the meeting. “We’re planning and fundraising to continue to be a global leader, but we need additional help from the state.”
In the open session, the board also discussed delegations of authority in the UC system. This was a continuation of a previous board meeting in August, during which the board examined delegation issues regarding athletics.
According to UC general counsel Charles Robinson, the previous discussion was met with conflicting sentiments. Some opined that no changes in delegation were necessary, citing communication as the focus, while others noted that the regents should retain authority altogether in certain important matters.
Robinson also noted that the criteria for board intervention — financial impact, conflict with university policy or reputational harm — were seen as too subjective and ambiguous by some. He added that retaining only the financial trigger may be preferable.
“The regents are unified in the fact that they leave as much as we can to the chancellors,” Leib said during the meeting. “They do an incredible job manning their campuses.”