The History of Cal

Part 3: Path to the Present, 1952 - today

Only once a generation, if that, does a man influence higher education in the United States as Clark Kerr (1952-58) did, with his clear vision for what he called the "multiversity." His series of speeches at Harvard, published under the title The Uses of the University, reconceptualized not only Cal's mission, but that of the American university as a whole. As Chancellor in the era of "I am a student, not an IBM Card; do not fold, spindle, or mutilate", Kerr sought to humanize the Berkeley campus. He eased the student housing crisis, built a new student union, the Zellerbach Auditorium, and the dining commons. After six years, however, he stepped down to assume the Presidency on Sproul's retirement, with Nobel laureate Glenn T. Seaborg taking over as Chancellor.

The Free Speech Movement one moment in Cal's history that Cal will never forget. It is the moment most people immediately associate with Cal, and it does serve as a perfect microcosm for the turmoil of America throughout the 1960s. But the 60s were really composed two general movements, neither of which particularly related to the other. During the first, the free speech movement of 1964, the students demonstrated peacefully in favor of letting students campaign and engage in political activity on campus, right on the far side of Sather Gate (Telegraph Avenue, remember, used to extend up to Sather Gate during this time) -- still on university property. Though there were a series of more minor protests in-between, such as the "Free Huey" movement and the Eldridge Cleaver sit-ins, the other moment glorified today is People's Park, 1969. Unlike the idealistic students of a few years back, seeking to prove they're upstanding citizens, this generation was radicalized and driven to more extreme methods. The students, however, were victorious, even if the National Guard was called in; the University turned this property it bought into an interim playing field, rather than turning it into student housing.

Though Seaborg (1958-61) finished some of the projects Kerr began -- the first high-rise dorms and the new student union opened under his reign -- his reign was cut short by his appointment as Chair of the Atomic Energy Committee by President Kennedy. Seaborg's successor, Edward W. Strong (1961-65), was successful administratively -- Strong was a master fund raiser, a requirement of all Chancellors since -- but his tenure was cut short by the eruption of the free speech crisis.

Roger W. Heyns (1965-71) led Cal in broad strokes. He began the special minority admissions program at Cal and finished several projects years in the making: the Lawrence Hall of Science, the University Art Museum, and so on. He made an important symbolic gesture, too, which has remained in place since: he became the first Chancellor to live on campus, moving into the long-vacant University House. The Chancellor was now a part of Cal's campus.

As the University's blossomed to undreamt-of heights, Fund-raising, by this time, was becoming increasingly important. Albert H. Bowker (1971-1980) established the Berkeley Foundation, successfully raising money for needed infrastructure projects. But Bowker, too, remained a visionary, with his "Berkeley in a Steady State" outlining his vision for Cal. The 70s were not a time when recession and Governor Jerry Brown's era of austerity with the State budget gave Chancellors much opportunity for making sweeping changes in buildings or programs.

While Bowker's successor, I. Michael Heyman (1980-90), may be remembered most for increasing minority student enrollment from 27% to 51%, he was probably most successful as a fund-raiser, raising $320 million with his Keeping the Promise campaign. The third longest serving head of the Berkeley campus behind Sprould and Wheeler, Heyman revitalized the campus with two major student housing projects, new and renovated buildings, and the planning for the new Haas Business School copmlex.

By 1990, the Chancellorship was a beast different from Kerr's chancellorship. Though created to deal with the "minutiae" of leadership, it had become a position which required: a vision for the future of Cal, a public savviness, and world-class fund-raising skills. These are three attributes which Heyman's successor, Chang-Lin Tien, possessed with passion.

Men and women are rarely remembered for their personalities. But Chang-Lin Tien (1990-97) should be, for his enthusiasm for Cal exuded itself every moment during his tenure. He would greet students with "Go Bears!" and he once drove at night to a student's apartment to drop off the student's wallet he found. This enthusiasm also manifested itself in what he did for campus: under Tien, the new Main Stacks for Doe Library were built, as was the new Haas School of Business and various other buildings. He also spoke, loudly, emotionally, and successfully, against the university's early-retirement plan, which was encouraging too many faculty to retire early, while also fighting strongly against affirmative action changes instituted by the Regents. His success in fighting the plan, and everything else Tien fought for, has let Cal sustain its excellence for years to come.

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