Campus & community

Carol Christ explains what it takes to lead UC Berkeley in a rapid-fire Q&A

The campus's outgoing chancellor tells us what's next, how she handled challenges in her time as leader, and what makes Berkeley Berkeley.

Chancellor Carol Christ already has her first day of retirement planned: She’s set to board a plane with her son and her two granddaughters on vacation. Christ, who has led Berkeley for the past seven years, handed holiday control over to her granddaughters, asking them where they’d like to go.

“I expected they would say Disneyland,” Christ explains in this short video. But her granddaughters surprised her by requesting a tour of Europe. “They said, ‘Paris and London, Grandma!'”

After spending most of her academic career at Berkeley, Christ will step down at the end of June. Her tenure as chancellor was filled with crisis and turmoil, including visits by controversial speakers, COVID, wildfire smoke, power outages, labor strikes and a student housing crisis. But she faced those challenges with resolve, all while making historic progress towards preparing for Berkeley’s future: thousands of new student beds will soon become available, donors contributed a record-smashing $7.37 billion to a capital campaign, and an entrepreneurial spirit on campus is thriving, among other accomplishments. 

And after all those years on campus, we asked her: What makes Berkeley Berkeley? 

“The sense that people are making history here, whether they’re discovering a new element or they are leading a political protest,” she said.

In this video interview, we asked Christ to reflect on what she has learned as a leader, what she’ll miss the most from her tenure, how to handle protests and free speech challenges and her hard-won advice for Chancellor-designate Rich Lyons.