Richard N. Goldman, philanthropist, adviser and friend of the university, passes away

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau issued the following statement on the passing of his dear and trusted friend:

BERKELEY — The University of California, Berkeley, mourns the loss of Richard N. Goldman, a visionary philanthropist, remarkable business leader and public citizen, and devoted friend and alumnus of the Class of 1941. Richard passed away in San Francisco on Sunday, Nov. 28, at the age of 90.

Richard Goldman

Richard N. Goldman (Photo courtesy of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund)

Richard was an invaluable adviser to me and to previous chancellors, and his loss is deeply felt by all who came in contact with him. He was also a very good friend to both Mary Catherine and me. Richard exemplified the very best of Berkeley, possessing a generosity that was boundless in spirit, practice and impact.

I am grateful to Richard for the breadth of his philanthropy, the fruits of which will benefit the lives of students, faculty, staff and alumni for generations to come. His immeasurable contributions reflect a deep commitment to all members of the campus community, from student athletes to international scholars, financially needy undergraduates to world-class faculty. Richard possessed a broad understanding of what is necessary to achieve access and excellence at UC Berkeley.

Richard provided cornerstone support to UC Berkeley’s School of Public Policy, which was renamed in honor of Richard and his late wife, Rhoda Haas Goldman, in 1997. This generosity has made possible the Goldman School’s global stature and reach. His vision and philanthropy also made possible programs on foreign policy and truth in the media at the Graduate School of Journalism, and undergraduate scholarships that underpin access to the university for students of all economic backgrounds.

His support for endowed chairs has made a great difference in UC Berkeley’s ability to attract and retain the very best faculty, and more than a dozen other areas of the campus have benefited from his far-reaching generosity. His love of Cal athletics included crucial support for the construction of the Student-Athlete High Performance Center at Memorial Stadium and the refinishing of Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium.

He served in numerous volunteer leadership roles across the campus, including membership on the Chancellor’s Executive Advisory Council and service as an emeritus trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation. If one were to measure Richard’s impact at Berkeley alone it would be astounding, but his generosity did not end here.

Together with his wife, Richard established the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund in 1951. It has awarded half a billion dollars to a variety of nonprofit organizations that strive to make the world a better and safer place.

Perhaps his and Rhoda’s greatest legacy is the Goldman Environmental Prize, which brings to light the work of grassroots leaders to protect endangered ecosystems and species, combat destructive development, encourage sustainability, influence environmental policy and promote environmental justice. The award, often considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for environmental heroism, has recognized individuals in more than 75 countries since it was established in 1991.

Many of the recipients of the Goldman Prize have faced harrowing consequences as a result of their activism, with some imprisoned in their homelands.

In 1994, The Bancroft Library published an oral history of Richard Goldman. In it, he spoke of his father, who also attended UC Berkeley, and of his family’s tradition of giving that was instilled in him by heritage and a deep-rooted sense of responsibility. He summed it all up by saying, “I think it’s in my blood.”

This year, Richard received an honor that recognized the scope of his achievement, when he was named the Cal Alumni Association’s Alumnus of the Year. The award acknowledged what we at Berkeley had known for so long — that we had a hero in our midst.

Richard was part of a multigenerational Cal family that included his father, his son, Douglas, and two grandchildren, Jason and Matthew, who graduated in May of this year. We extend our condolences to the entire family.

There are very few people who have had so broad an impact as Richard Goldman. Richard’s call to make this world better will live on in the works that he began and in the challenge that he leaves for us to carry on.

A public memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, at Congregation Emanu-El at 2 Lake St. in San Francisco.

Additional statement