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Chancellor reflects on end of academic year

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In her biannual conversation, Chancellor Carol Christ spoke about this year's challenges, including with the budget deficit, and upcoming changes, such as with campus safety.


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Lead Environment and Climate Beat Reporter

MAY 19, 2023

Chancellor Carol Christ participated in her twice-a-year livestream conversation Wednesday, reflecting on the past academic year at UC Berkeley and campus’s plans for the future.

Christ noted that this school year was especially challenging as students and faculty have had to adjust to the lessening of COVID-19 restrictions and the occurrence of the graduate students’ strike. The chancellor emphasized the long-lasting effects of these events on campus’s collective psychological and social well-being, in addition to its health impacts.

That said, Christ noted the successes of construction efforts on campus and attempts at diversifying the student and faculty populations, all while facing a current budget deficit.

Among these successes, Christ included the Light the Way fundraising campaign surpassing its $6 billion goal, progress in campus’s commitments to double housing over the course of 1o years, new research advances — particularly in climate and biomedicine — and progress in campus’s goal to increase the Latine undergraduate population to 25%.

“I think resilience has characterized Berkeley throughout its history,” Christ said during the livestream. “It’s had many crises, many budget crises, many political crises, and it always has emerged from them stronger.”

Christ pointed to the pandemic as an example of Berkeley’s characteristic resilience, noting that it prompted the institution to develop online tools for instruction.

As to the looming question about campus’s current $82 million deficit, Christ noted her strategy to increase sources of revenue, rather than to cut campus programs. Christ also said she had just been in Sacramento, making the case for a 5% increase for the University budget.

“It’s very important for us to hold on to the 5% in a state budget that seems to look bleaker by the day,” Christ said.

In terms of diversifying the campus, Christ said campus is “making good progress” in its goal to change its overall demographics.

Christ also added that campus has been taking steps forward in terms of diversifying faculty via cluster hires, and faculty searches with more general rubrics.

“Even more important is making sure everyone feels like they belong,” Christ said. “That they’re respected for who they are, that they can bring their whole self to work.”

Christ also commented on the issue of campus safety, a hot topic among many students and parents, mentioning a new tiered police system campus is working toward. In this new system, Christ said armed officers would only be employed in the event of violent crime.

There is now going to be a new category of plainclothes officers who won’t be armed dealing with less severe disturbances according to Christ. Campus is also pursuing the implementation of a mental health response team, she said.

In terms of Berkeley’s homelessness crisis, Christ noted that unhoused people really don’t pose any criminal or violent threat, emphasizing that homelessness is “one of the tragedies of our time.” Christ alluded to campus’s now-paused People’s Park housing project, noting that the planned development includes permanent housing for the unhoused people currently living at the park.

In the livestream, Christ also addressed growing concerns over AI technology and the growing fields of computer science and data science. She noted that at the upcoming regents meeting there will be a vote to decide on creating a new college for computing, data science and society.

Ending the live stream, Christ reiterated that campus is currently at a “pivotal moment.”

“It’s a pivotal movement because the pandemic has created this whole new language of digital instruction, which faculty are familiar with in ways they weren’t before,” Christ said. “So if you were to have a conversation about digital instruction before the pandemic, you would have faced a lot of resistance. Now the conversations are different.”

Contact Amber X. Chen at  or on Twitter


MAY 19, 2023