UC Berkeley Drive Seeks $3 Billion

By Richard Brenneman
Friday September 19, 2008 - 04:01:00 PM

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau kicked off the public phase of a $3 billion fund-raising drive Friday, seeking funds for scholarships, campus improvements, faculty salaries, research—and $600 million for buildings. 

Talking to reporters in the conference room at California Hall, Birgeneau said the most critical part of the fund drive will raise $640 million for endowing financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students. 

“We are extraordinarily pleased with how well the community, alumni and friends of the university have contributed so far in the silent phase of the campaign,” said Birgeneau. 

The university wants to raise $1.7 billion over the next years, using the theme “Thanks to Berkeley” to highlight contributions the university has made to the lives of its graduates. 

A primary emphasis will be to raise funds for scholarships for California students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, he said. 

“African American and Chicano American students at Berkeley are disproportionately from poor backgrounds” compared to Caucasians and Asian Americans, he said, comprising about two-thirds of the African American students and “little more than half” of the Chicano Americans. 

The chancellor said he hoped that alumni who attended in the days when fees topped out at $150 a semester will open their wallets to help pay for the education of students faced with today’s much higher costs. 

And while the university’s state funding has remained relatively constant in the face of recent rounds of budget cuts, Birgeneau said it hasn’t kept pace with cost of living increases. 

Part of the funds will come from a $113 million Hewlett Foundation challenge grant announced last September, the largest single gift ever made to Cal. 

“We anticipated it would take seven years” to raise the matching funds, Birgeneau said, “but after one year we already have more than 50 of the 100 shares matched and we are in advanced discussions on another 30.” 

“The psychology is that people love a match,” he said, and the university is looking for more matching grant funders. 

The chancellor said little of the money will come from corporations, with most funds derived from individuals and foundations. 

Faculty salaries and support will account for $390 million of the total, with research funding taking another $450 million. 

“In order to have the best faculty and staff, you have to pay higher salaries,” Birgeneau said.  

The university is facing challenges from private institutions like Yale, which has an endowment of $23 million and Harvard, which reported that its endowment has reached $36.9 billion as of June 30, the Boston Globe reported. 

Closer to home, Birgeneau said the funds Stanford receives as interest on its endowment top by $300 million Berkeley’s funding from the state. Stanford reports on its website that the university has an endowment totaling $17.2 billion. 

By contrast, Berkeley endowment stood at $2.9 billion at the end of last year. 

Funds already raised have almost reached the total accumulated between 1993 and 2000, the period of the university’s last major fund-raising drive. 

The Campaign for Berkeley, as the new drive is formally titled, began on July 1, 2005, with the start of the so-called “quiet phase,” and the drive will end on June 30, 2013. 

Birgenau said the name of the not-so-quiet phase, “Thanks to Berkeley,” came after hearing the phrase repeated over and over during consultations with alumni. 

The official kickoff of the new phase was anything but quiet, with the Cal marching band and cheerleaders on hand to inaugurate the drive and the unveiling of a 72-foot-long photo mural in Dwinelle Plaza featuring the faces of more than 400 students, faculty, staff and alumni.