Campus, donors celebrate success of Campaign for Berkeley

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Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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As Cal Day celebrations drew to a close Saturday evening, more than 500 alumni and other donors gathered in a white pavilion on Hearst Mining Circle to commemorate the success of the Campaign for Berkeley.

Current Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and former chancellor Robert Birgeneau toasted the guests — who were invited after giving $5,000 or more to UC Berkeley — expressing their appreciation of the donors’ generosity.

“I’d like to believe you have empowered us not only to defy the predictors of doom back in 2008 but also to make this university stronger than it’s ever been,” Dirks said. “Each of you has a story to tell about this incredible place that is Berkeley. Your stories embody the DNA of the university.”

The campaign, launched publicly in 2008, surpassed its initial goal of $3 billion by raising $3.13 billion from more than 250,000 donors, campus officials announced in February. The donations contribute to scholarships, fellowships and faculty chairs as well as the renovation or construction of campus buildings. As a sign of appreciation, in the week leading up to Cal Day, big bows were attached to spaces built or renovated with funding from donors. New signs were also affixed to lamp posts across campus.

Dirks also thanked his predecessor for his leadership in seeing the campaign through times of financial difficulty.

“We launched the $3 billion campaign nervously, but in the end, we had faith in all of you that you would step up and guarantee access and excellence at Berkeley,” Birgeneau said.

Many alumni said they gave donations to return what they had earned from their time at UC Berkeley.

“I have a job because of the degree I received here, and, even as my career progressed, there have been a lot of other people and alumni that supported me in helping me grow,” said Kinman Tong, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2003.

Additionally, Rick Reeder, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC Berkeley, said a big reason for his donation was the decrease in state funding. Currently, state funding makes up 12 percent of the campus budget, compared to 52 percent in 1981.

“I probably wouldn’t donate if the state would do what it’s supposed to — which is support the school,” Reeder said.

Dirks acknowledged that fundraising efforts will have to continue in order to support the campus.

“We will build on the momentum, the power of what you’ve done — we will build on this in the future as we go forward, as we continue to hold high values of this university and to work together … as we move towards the next campaign,” he said to the guests. “We’ll be calling you in the morning.”

Somin Park is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_sominpark.