Berkeley Conversations, Campus & community

In Campus Conversation, President Michael Drake talks budget, UC future

By Public Affairs

UC President Michael Drake with Chancellor Carol Christ during a 2023 visit to UC Berkeley.

UC President Michael Drake spoke Thursday, April 18, during a UC Berkeley Campus Conversation event. This 2021 file photo shows Drake visiting the campus and meeting with Chancellor Carol Christ. 

Brittany Hosea-Small for UC Berkeley

University of California system President Michael Drake spoke to the campus community on Thursday during a Campus Conversation event.

Drake, who has led the 10-campus University of California system since August 2020, discussed an array of major topics regarding UC Berkeley and higher education, including the role of public education in California, diversity, global issues, budget concerns and his approach to leadership.

In the nearly hour-long conversation, Drake noted that while he appreciates what each UC campus brings to the world, Berkeley was like a “first-born.”

“Berkeley was where we all started, where the University of California started, and Berkeley really defined for the United States, and in many ways for the world, what it means to be a public research university,” he said.

“Cal is one of those rare places that is world-class across the board,” he added.

Drake also discussed the systemwide budget and a one-year pause in expected increases in state funds.

Drake noted that while the pause was happening this year, state funding had actually climbed in previous years.

“Although the state is being squeezed, (this year) the governor has proposed we be held flat, but I just want to make sure (people understand) that our flat budget is $500 million higher than our budget was two years ago. It is up by half-a-billion dollars in permanent money — held flat there,” he said.

Asked about the future of the UC system, Drake said he was convinced the UC campuses would be an intellectual guide for the world.

“I'm a fan of higher education. I think our higher education institutions are among the greatest assets that this country has over all of these years,” Drake said. “I think we're incredibly important to the future of California and this country, but actually to the future of the planet.”

During the April 18 Campus Conversation event, University of California system President Michael Drake discussed an array of major topics regarding UC Berkeley and higher education, including the role of public education in California, diversity, global issues, budget concerns and his approach to leadership.