While virtual events, discussions and tours offered during the pandemic have given newly admitted students a computerized slice of campus life at UC Berkeley, there’s no substitute for the real thing.
That’s why this Saturday (April 23) the campus will hold its annual Cal Day in person for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020. Known as Berkeley’s version of an “open house,” Cal Days of yore typically welcomed over 45,000 prospective students, alumni and the public to campus.
But Cal Day 2022 will be dedicated to the more than 10,000 newly admitted students and their families. Getting them to accept Berkeley’s offer is what Saturday is all about, said Olufemi Ogundele, Berkeley’s associate vice chancellor of enrollment and dean of undergraduate admission.
“We believe that all of these students belong here,” Ogundele said. “Cal Day is our opportunity, as a community, to showcase who we are and what we offer. It’s also a celebration of the accomplishments of newly admitted scholars here at Berkeley… My hope is that students will discover that Berkeley is more than a collection of libraries and classrooms — it’s a vibe.”
Executive director of Berkeley’s Visitor and Parent Services La Dawn Duvall said the shift to limiting Cal Day attendance to newly admitted students was due, in part, to health considerations for the ongoing pandemic.
Nearly 90% of all Cal Day gatherings on Saturday will be outdoors, she said, and large-scale presentations and lectures will be limited.
Cal Day attendees can navigate campus by using their Cal Events Guidebook app that will allow students to craft their own specialized Berkeley experience by choosing from the over 400 events offered.
The day will start at 8 a.m. with an early morning welcome from Chancellor Carol Christ at California Memorial Stadium, where Berkeley’s student body president Chaka Tellem will also speak to students and their families, followed by a performance by the Cal Marching Band.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cal Day will offer a diverse array of events ranging from guided tours and open exhibits and museums to musical performances, faculty presentations and Cal Athletics games. At 5 p.m., student-run nonprofit SUPERB will present the annual Cal Day concert on Memorial Glade with musical artist Raveena.
To cap off the day, attendees can head over to Zellerbach Hall at 8 p.m. to watch Cal Performances’ artist-in-residence Angélique Kidjo make her music theater debut in Yemandja.
“I’m excited Cal Day is back in person,” said Duvall. “There’s nothing better than just being on campus and feeling that spirit and that energy that our Berkeley community has to offer. It really gives students an opportunity to have a special day and experience that can help them realize that Berkeley is the right fit for them.”
Across campus, Cal Day attendees will see banners promoting the Berkeley Discovery Initiative, a new campuswide vision for undergraduate education life at Berkeley that aims to empower all students in their own academic journeys by providing a rich ecosystem of support.
The initiative is working to create a campus culture where students develop their passions by connecting to each other and campus resources, said Bree Rosenblum, professor of global change biology and the initiative’s faculty director.
Rosenblum will join Chancellor Christ at Memorial Stadium during the morning Cal Day kickoff and give a presentation to newly admitted students and their families. Students will also be invited to view a special virtual Cal Day Campus Conversation about the student initiative.
“We are hoping that these offerings help students picture themselves having their own unique journey here at Berkeley,” Rosenblum said. “We want to offer the best of both worlds to our students: the opportunities of a large research university and the personalization of a small supportive community.”
While virtual Cal Week programs will still be offered for admitted students who are not able to attend Cal Day, Ogundele said the ability for attendees to talk to students and faculty members face-to-face, and to really see and feel what it’s like to be on campus, can’t be replicated in a virtual setting.
“The ability to see oneself here is so crucial to making college decisions for students and their families,” Ogundele said. “Berkeley is a community and an incubator for generating ideas and collaborations amongst an incredible group of diverse scholars.”
“Students should choose Berkeley if they are interested in joining a community that seeks to change the world for the better,” he continued. “Whether it’s the sciences or the arts, our students and faculty seek to push the status quo, because they know that’s where excellence resides.”