After 15 years of service, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy — who worked as a lead campus fundraiser, public affairs executive and the architect of key administrative programs — will retire at the end of the month.
Biddy was, in the words of Berkeley alum and donor Robert D. Haas, “California Hall’s Swiss Army knife: He performed a wide variety of important functions, and did all of them well.”
Biddy joined Berkeley’s Office of University Relations (now University Development and Alumni Relations) from Georgetown University in 2002, and served as vice chancellor for university relations from 2006 through 2015.
As the senior executive in the realms of donor relations, alumni engagement and public affairs, he spearheaded the campus’s most ambitious fundraising effort to date: the Campaign for Berkeley. Despite an inauspicious launch the same week as the start of the 2008 global financial crisis, the campaign raised $3.13 billion, breaking numerous fundraising records and bringing in the largest private gift in Berkeley’s history, a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that allocated funding for 100 new endowed faculty chairs across campus.
“Scott crafted a campaign strategy that strengthened Berkeley for the future,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement Irene Kim, who worked with Biddy on the campaign. “That strategy is still paying dividends today: Gifts from more than 281,000 alumni, parents and friends have created scholarships, fellowships and faculty chairs, and are improving the lives of people around the world through research and service for the greater good.”
At the helm of the campus’s development function for a decade, Biddy made his mark in myriad ways. In 2009 he launched the Berkeley Endowment Management Company, which was charged with growing and providing professional stewardship of campus investments in an era of declining state funding. Over the course of several years he led Berkeley’s fundraising organization through major changes aimed at streamlining operations and better matching donors to campus needs. Biddy also directed the launch of strategic projects like the Big Give, a one-day fundraising blitz involving large swaths of the campus community which has become an annual tradition.
More recently, Biddy’s service to Berkeley took other directions. In 2014, he helped create the Board of Visitors, an advisory committee made up of alumni and community members and established to counsel campus leaders on strategic and financial planning, key initiatives and major capital projects. In 2015, he moved out of university relations to further solidify the structure and function of the board.
“Scott played a pivotal role in the evolution and maturation of the Board of Visitors, which he helped form, populate, steward and refine,” said Haas, a board member. “He has provided the board with helpful background on campus developments, and has always been responsive when we have questions. He is unhesitating, yet tactful, in pushing back when he disagrees with a suggestion or observation.”
While continuing to support the Board of Visitors, in February 2016 Biddy began overseeing Berkeley’s division of administration and finance after the departure of its leader, Vice Chancellor John Wilton. What was expected to be a six-month engagement was extended to a year and a half, and in this time Biddy shepherded the unit through difficult budget reductions, operational changes and leadership transitions.
“Scott is an adept administrator who has steered units under his guidance through challenging times; a broadly talented person quick to assist the campus in its greatest areas of need; and a knowledgeable counselor to campus leadership on all manner of issues,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, summarizing Biddy’s many contributions over the course of his 15-year career.
“Perhaps most importantly, he has been a key figure in establishing a culture of philanthropy at Berkeley – an essential development given the state’s disinvestment in UC,” said Christ. “It is in no small part due to Scott’s efforts that Berkeley continues to be one of the nation’s most celebrated institutions of learning.”