Monday, February 9, 2015

On the Governor's Norms

From Berkeley Chancellor Dirks:

“You got your foreign students and you got your 4.0 folks. But just the kind of ordinary, normal students, you know, they got good grades but weren’t at the top of the heap there, they’re getting frozen out.” —California Gov. Jerry Brown on UC Berkeley’s students.

I must confess: Reading these words in late January between meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was an otherworldly experience. I was there to showcase some of our most brilliant faculty, while also meeting with alumni, partners, collaborators and supporters from around the world. In these meetings, I talked about our vision for the new Berkeley Global Campus, which will provide more international opportunities for our students and faculty and create a global hub for addressing some of the world’s most challenging issues, from global governance and ethics to climate change, the role of big data and technology in our future and global health. The response we received was overwhelmingly positive, especially to the proposal that at the intellectual epicenter of this new campus would be an effort to cultivate global citizenship through education, practice and research. To everyone I spoke with at Davos, it seemed only natural that UC Berkeley — the only public university from the United States formally represented there — would be leading the way in designing such an innovative new approach to meeting our most critical global challenges...

As I take this message on the road to forums across the state and nation, foremost in my mind will be you, UC Berkeley’s students. Personally, I am not much interested in a campus filled with “normal” students. What I am interested in preserving is what we have: a place where the extraordinary is, well, ordinary...

Full op ed at

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