Campus, community leaders bond over breakfast

Robert Birgeneau hosted his fourth and final annual Community Leaders Breakfast Thursday morning, an opportunity for dozens of leaders to raise a coffee toast to the retiring chancellor and to celebrate the town-gown ties that, by general acclamation, have grown stronger under his stewardship of UC’s flagship campus.

Birgeneau, Hancock, Skinner

Chancellor Birgeneau accepts a gift of appreciation from state Sen. Loni Hancock, left, and state Assemblymember Nancy Skinner. (Peg Skorpinski photos)

Over pastries and coffee in the Haas Pavilion’s Club Room, dozens of leaders from the campus, the community and the business world — including Mary Catherine Birgeneau, retiring UC Police Chief Mitch Celaya, Berkeley Skydeck executive director Jeff Burton, state Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and the mayors of Berkeley and Albany — shmoozed, networked, and took a brief visual tour of some of the neighborhood- and community-based projects funded in part by the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund, which has awarded more than 100 grants totaling more than $1 million since 2006.

Singled out for special mention were BUILD (Berkeley Unified in Literacy Development), which pairs UC Berkeley students with Berkeley public-school students for one-on-one tutoring in reading skills, and Skydeck, a campus-city partnership that fosters the growth of startups with roots at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Tom Bates

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates

Skinner and state Sen. Loni Hancock presented Birgeneau with a plaque recognizing his “eight years of leadership.” Hancock, noting in particular Birgeneau’s strong advocacy for the California Dream Act, praised his testimony before the Legislature on behalf of undocumented students as “a very, very important signal to many of our members that it was okay to vote for it.”