Andrew SzeriAny day you may find yourself chatting (by phone or email or Facebook or even in person) with a student who is considering coming to Berkeley.

You’re here, on the ground. You know the campus from the inside, and you have a unique kind of credibility: you’re a student now, doing the very thing your questioner is hoping to do, at one of the most desirable places in the world.

What you are (or might become) involved in at this time of year is called the recruiting cycle because, like so much here, it comes around every year. Our top-notch graduate students are a crucial part of why top faculty are attracted to Berkeley. And great students come here to learn from the great teachers and researchers they read about and hear about. And so it continues.

When you find yourself telling someone about the campus you know best, it may help to have at your fingertips some bellwether facts – and I do emphasize facts — about the university that’s evolved during your time here. To augment your knowledge of Berkeley’s funding and more, we’ve prepared a detailed overview called Graduate Education at UC Berkeley, available online (pdf).

Although the State of California founded and nourished the University of California system (and the two will always be bound together), as elsewhere across the nation, economics and politics have combined to lessen state support to public education. This reality has led some commentators and competitors to issue predictions of UC’s doom and decline.

But the facts show they’re wrong. A reality-based assessment reveals an upbeat prognosis:  the state of the University is good — amazingly so.

In fact, the overall campus budget has increased year-on-year, even as the State contribution has decreased to about 10%. As state funding for UC has dropped, federal research dollars have grown, and a new influx of philanthropic support for Berkeley has emerged, where individuals, corporations, and foundations are stepping up to maintain Cal’s position of excellence. The Campaign for Berkeley is on target to raise $3 billion before 2014, all in support of students, faculty, research, and programs. Multi-year graduate fellowships and departmental financial support for graduate students  grow each year, and I am fully confident that such funds will only continue to increase.

Despite the misleading naysayers, Berkeley continues to be a magnet for prospective students – applications to graduate programs over the last decade have increased 46 percent!  More telling is that, year after year, more of the students we admit are choosing to enroll here, often despite offers from three or more elite universities. That is strong testament to a decision process – based on what they learn from all sources, including you – that reveals Berkeley to be extraordinarily vibrant.

So, thank you for helping to give prospective students your well-informed appraisal of the merits of this beacon to the best and brightest.  By the way, your help helps yourself too – continuing the cycle of recruiting and graduating top-notch students enhances the reputation and value of your own degree into the future!

Best,

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Andrew J. Szeri
Dean of the Graduate Division


Categories: Featured in eGrad: February 2012, Headlines, Message from the Dean

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