Nearly 50 years, ago, American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams shot black-and-white images of the University of California campuses, creating a vast repository of 1960s photographs that was named “Fiat Lux” (“Let there be light”), after the university’s motto.
Incoming freshmen and transfer students arriving at UC Berkeley starting today (Friday, June 1) for summer orientation are each receiving a special gift copy of the 1967 volume by Adams and Nancy Newhall as part of the campus’s annual On the Same Page program. The program for all new students and all faculty members was created in 2006 by the College of Letters & Science to give the campus community something in common to talk about, such as a book, a film or a theme, during the school year.
Viewing Adams’ images, taken at a turbulent time for the UC and commissioned by then-UC President Clark Kerr, may inspire students and faculty to think about the UC today and to imagine its future, organizers said.
“We are all stewards of the University of California,” said Catherine Cole, professor of theater, dance and performance studies, who proposed this year’s theme to the deans who selected it.
The Bancroft Library in September will open “Fiat Lux Redux,” an exhibit of Adams’ UC photos, so that members of the campus community can see the original prints.
Other events, activities and classroom opportunities tied to the chosen theme will unfold beginning in the fall.
An innovative aspect of this year’s program will be “Fiat Lux Remix,” a chance starting in mid-June for students to download images from the collection from the On the Same Page website and use them as a basis for their own creative and intellectual projects. There will be a prize for the best project, and student submissions that present the most thoughtful and creative visions of the UC’s future will be shared with the chancellor, UC president, UC Regents and other influential audiences.
Students unable to attend orientation this summer will receive their books by mail, unless they have international mailing addresses, in which case they can pick their books up when they arrive on campus.
Previous On the Same Page topics have included the linguistic diversity of the incoming class, personalized medicine and the book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.