BERKELEY (CBS SF) — After a year on the job, University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said Monday that the university is making progress in balancing its budget and providing more housing for its students.
In a back-to-school briefing before fall classes begin on Wednesday, Christ said the university is also making progress in meeting other major goals: building community, increasing diversity, supporting research and improving the student experience.
Christ, who succeeded Nicholas Dirks on July 1, 2017, after serving as a UC Berkeley faculty member and administrator for 32 years and as president of Smith College in Massachusetts, said the university’s structural budget deficit stood at $150 million just two years ago but she hopes to balance the budget by next summer.
Referring to the budget problem, Christ said, “We cannot cut our way out of this crisis” and the key to resolve it is by increasing revenues, which she said the university has been able to accomplish in part by a fundraising campaign that brought in $569 million in the past year, more than $90 million higher than the previous record.
Joining Christ at the news conference, chief financial officer and vice chancellor for finance Rosemarie Rae said the university also has been able to cut its expenses through attrition and “sustainable efficiencies.”
However, Christ said she’s trying to ensure that those efficiencies won’t detract from students’ educational experiences.
She said she’s committed to doubling the number of beds available to undergraduate and graduate students in the next 10 years and the university already added 836 beds this summer by opening Blackwell Hall near the campus.
“To meet our goal, we will need to build on all the available university-owned land close to the campus,” Christ said.
Vice chancellor of equity and inclusion Oscar Dubon Jr. said the university is seeking to become a Hispanic-serving institution in which at least 25 percent of its students are Hispanic.
Dubon said promoting activism is a key goal for the university, saying, “We are an engine of social change.”
Christ said free speech has been an important issue at UC Berkeley in recent years, as large and sometimes violent crowds of protesters have greeted conservative speakers who’ve come to the campus.
“It was challenging to uphold our unwavering commitment to the bedrock value of free expression, as well as related legal obligations, while at the same time fostering the values of diversity and inclusivity that are also core to the campus,” she said.
Christ said she formed a commission on free speech to study that conflict and she will soon announce how the university will implement the recommendations the commission made for how it might better be reconciled.
Christ said another priority is reducing sexual harassment on the campus.
She said, “I have no tolerance for sexual harassment and we’re seeing real improvement there.”
Later Monday, Christ will give the convocation address at the Haas Pavilion on campus.
The event, which is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., is the official welcome for new students and includes student and faculty arts performances as well as formal addresses by Christ and other campus leaders.
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