Today, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks released a wide-ranging report detailing progress achieved and work underway on several key campus priorities. In his introduction to the review, Dirks wrote:
By any measure, Berkeley’s status as one of the world’s greatest universities is unquestionable. We represent the global gold standard for public higher education, and for good reason. In 2016, we remain the nation’s #1 public university — as we’ve been for decades — and numerous rankings place us among the world’s top research universities across all categories. Our ability to attract and retain some of the best faculty in the world in turn allows us to recruit graduate and undergraduate student bodies to match. We’re the most selective public school in the country outside of the military academies, and I feel confident in saying that our current class is the most academically accomplished of any we’ve had in our history.
In addition to research and academic excellence, Berkeley continues to be what The New York Times calls a “social mobility machine,” offering incredible opportunities to a huge number of lower-income students. Berkeley enrolls nearly as many Pell Grant students as the entire Ivy League, and gives them access to a faculty which is every bit as distinguished. That rare combination of academic excellence, access and affordability is at the heart of our contribution to the greater good, and it is something we all feel immensely proud of and are dedicated to maintaining.
Of course, this is no time to be complacent, and Berkeley is anything but. We continue to invest in improving the undergraduate experience for our students, both through curricular innovation and through greater integration of the academic sphere into students’ residential life experience. Our schools and colleges are designing new classes and programs to prepare students for meaningful lives and careers in the 21st century. We remain committed to making Berkeley a welcoming and inclusive place for all of our faculty, students, and staff, and directing resources towards campus climate initiatives remains a top priority. It has also been an exciting year for the arts at Berkeley, with the appointment of our first associate vice chancellor for the arts and design as well as the opening of the newly built UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
Amidst all these developments, Berkeley — like public universities throughout the country — is adjusting to a new financial reality. We’re committed to strategically addressing our challenges and to maintaining our excellence as a public university, and we have plans underway to ensure that Berkeley remains Berkeley.
Our foundation is strong: The quality of our faculty, students, and staff, the wellspring of this university’s strength, remains unsurpassed. And our public mission remains intact. Berkeley is not a place that ever stands still, but all of the changes we’re making, from investment in new academic programs to carrying out a strategic planning process, are in service of preserving our essential character as the leading university in the world across both our academic and our public missions. This is my highest responsibility as Berkeley’s chancellor, and the single most important metric in terms of the work that lies before us.