It’s a shiny new school year at UC Berkeley, and Chancellor Carol Christ said Monday the fall semester arrives with many reasons for celebration.
Efforts to close the budget deficit are ahead of schedule, a strategic planning process is mapping out a path for growth deep into the 21st century, new housing will ease the burden on students and efforts to promote diversity will let the student, staff and faculty thrive.
“This is such an exciting time of year for all of us work in higher education — the newness of all of the expectations and the excitement of all these students coming to campus,” Christ said at back-to-school press conference on Monday, just two days before classes begin.
New revenue, cost-cutting and a $25 million contribution from the state Legislature will allow UC Berkeley to close its long-term budget gap one year ahead of schedule, by June 2019, Christ said.
Campus leaders had aimed to cut the $150 million deficit to $57 million over the last year, but ended up ahead of their target and will likely close the last fiscal year with just a $30-$40-million gap, Christ said.
“This has been a long tunnel,” Christ said of the campus’s budget woes. “But we not only see the light, we’re really at the edge of the tunnel right now, which is really exciting for the campus.”
Christ also noted the campus has added 836 new beds to the campus housing stock this year, through long-term leases with developers and the new, 752-bed Blackwell Hall. Christ has pledged to add 7,500 new beds for students over the next 10 years at sites like People’s Park, the Oxford Tract and Albany Village.
UC Berkeley currently provides close to 8,700 beds for some 42,000 graduate and undergraduate students, the lowest percentage in the University of California system.
Most importantly, Christ said, closing the budget deficit would let the campus turn toward the future, which could include new buildings, important research and innovative teaching.
“Perhaps the most important result of getting our financial house in order is the freedom it gives us to think about the future, to embrace a strategic plan with audacious and visionary goals,” Christ said. “It is just a great time at Berkeley and I am just so pleased with where we are standing right now.”
To read updates from Christ about free speech, diversity, and more, click here.
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