Memorial salutes Michael Heyman, campus’s sixth chancellor, as ‘builder of Berkeley’

More than 350 family, friends and colleagues celebrated the life and legacy of former UC Berkeley Chancellor I. Michael Heyman during an inspirational campus memorial at International House Monday.

Heyman, who was 81, died at his Berkeley home Nov. 19 following a long battle with emphysema.

A professor of law and of city and regional planning, Heyman served as a vice chancellor from 1974 to 1980 before becoming Berkeley’s sixth chancellor. Although his high-profile campus career spanned more than 50 years, Heyman is perhaps best-known for his work beyond Berkeley as the first non-scientist to lead the Smithsonian Institution.

During his 10-year tenure as chancellor — the longest chancellorship in campus history — Heyman left an indelible impact on Berkeley that ran the gamut from expanding access and diversity to jump-starting private fundraising, and from launching a comprehensive construction program to re-establishing Berkeley as a leader in the biological sciences.

I. Michael Heyman memorial

The California Straw Hat Band brought the crowd to its feet in a rousing finale to the memorial.

Monday’s service sparkled with passion, spirit and energy as the standing-room-only auditorium reverberated with choruses of appreciation, shared memories and laughter long before the California Straw Hat Band marched in to bring the crowd to its feet and the memorial to an end.

John Cummins, who served as Heyman’s chief of staff during his time as chancellor, introduced a list of speakers from the worlds of academia and public service. They paid tribute to Heyman as a consummate lawyer, teacher and administrator, a larger-than-life pioneer and a “builder of Berkeley” whose legacy forever changed the face and course of the University of California.

Sanford Kadish, professor and dean emeritus of Berkeley’s law school, led the tributes to his former colleague and friend, recalling “a man of linebacker proportions” whose achievements were as great as his physical stature.

“That unrestrained shock of wiry, white hair, his warm-hearted smile, rolling nautical walk, infectiously affable manner and folksy New York accent” were but outward expressions of an innate ability to bridge differences and resolve disagreements, Kadish reflected.

A champion of access and diversity, Heyman spearheaded efforts to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and low-income students on campus. Under his chancellorship, undergraduate enrollment of minorities jumped nearly 25 percent. The number of minority faculty also grew during this period.

Heyman modernized Berkeley’s development program by establishing its first major fundraising campaign. The effort generated $450 million in annual support from private sources increased threefold during his 10-year tenure.

He implemented the largest-ever reorganization of the biological sciences, restructuring specialties and modernizing teaching and lab space. As part of the revitalization initiative, Heyman’s administration launched a comprehensive construction program that included the five-year, $100 million renovation of the Valley Life Sciences Building.

In 1994 he was named secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. During his five years at the helm, Heyman dedicated himself to making the institution more relevant and accessible through public and community engagement.

“He was the one who made the Smithsonian realize that it had to have a conversation about its role with the American people,” said Marc Pachter, a former colleague and interim director of the National Museum of American History.

Christopher Edley Jr., dean of Berkeley’s School of Law, praised Heyman for his vision, principles, passion and contributions in leadership in the practice of law, hailing him as a “builder of Boalt Law, today.”

Having earned his law degree at Yale University, Heyman held prestigious federal court clerkships, most notably with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, where he served as chief law clerk from 1958-59. He also served on governmental commissions and advisory boards with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the California Civil Rights Commission.

“Mike represented a new breed of lawyer engaged in multidisciplinary problem-solving and fighting to connect the world of ideas to the world of action,” said Edley.

In his eulogy, Heyman’s son, James, a professor of physics at Macalester College in Minnesota, expressed the hope that the core life lessons he learned from his father had rubbed off on his own son.

With “integrity and loyalty” at the core of everything, you must treat work as a “privilege and a duty,” he said, sharing his father’s formula for professional success and personal happiness. “You must love what you do, take joy in life and accept what it offers.”

The family requests that memorial gifts be made to the I. Michael Heyman Project at the UC Berkeley School of Law, or to the Ira Michael Heyman Memorial Scholarship Fund, University Relations, 2080 Addison St., Berkeley, CA 94720-4200. Those wishing to donate online may do so by going to the Give to Cal website and using the search term “Heyman.”

Related information

Ira Michael Heyman, former UC Berkeley chancellor, dies at 81 (UC Berkeley press release)