No, there was no Doug Benson or Paul F. Tompkins on hand when Chancellor Robert Birgeneau gave his end-of-the-school-year speech to the Berkeley Staff Assembly, but it still felt like a reflective time. Birgeneau described this year as “the single most difficult year I personally have experienced” in his academic career. To which we at the Clog would like to add a polite but insistent “DUH.”

He also admitted that he is “sometimes accused of being excessively optimistic” and tried to remedy this to fit with the times. He acknowledged that the draining of money from education (aka “disinvestment”) will probably continue, and it doesn’t look so good for us in the “short-term future.”

But hey, you can’t keep a good man down, so he also promised us some “moderate” optimism: furloughs are expected to be over by the end of August, Berkeley remains the number one choice for National Science Foundation graduate-research fellowship winners, and we have not seen a mass exodus of talented staff.

He’s also proud about the uptick in international students. (500 spots were given to international and out-of-state students this year in order to get some more moolah. But, hey, don’t worry, California–1,900 are still left for us.)

And he talked straight to the BSA. Worst case, he said, UC funding will stay flat. “And if we stay flat,” he said, “we will not be in luxury, but actually we will be okay.”

That can’t actually be the worst case, but you gotta hand it to the guy. That’s just the kind of moderate optimism this university needs.

‘A very difficult time’ for the campus, but Birgeneau accentuates the positives as he looks toward the future [UC Berkeley News]
Image source: .sandhu under Creative Commons


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