Richmond Bay Campus to be transformed into Berkeley Global Campus

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Sierra Brown/File

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Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced plans to transform the Richmond Bay campus into a globally focused research and education facility at a meeting of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate on Wednesday.

The campus, now known as the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay, aims to bring leading researchers from around the world to a central campus.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, the Richmond Bay campus was an intended extension of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and would have provided a consolidated location for research. Progress on the campus was halted due to federal budget cuts in 2013.

Speaking to the senate, Dirks said part of the mission of the Berkeley Global Campus is to attract researchers from top universities and technology companies to engage in interdisciplinary projects to solve global problems in the fields of energy, personalized medicine, the global economy and the environment.

“The Berkeley Global Campus presents an exciting set of possibilities for research in a global context,” Dirks said at the meeting. “This gives us the opportunity to develop and grow while sustaining what we do on campus.”

According to Dirks, the Berkeley Global Campus would also provide graduate and undergraduate programs with a focus on preparing students for global research and connection. He emphasized plans to create opportunities similar to the Rhodes scholars program, which could include a semester abroad at an affiliated campus as well as a semester at the Berkeley Global Campus.

Another advantage to housing a global campus, according to Dirks, is the ability to ensure “safe harbor,” or the protection of academic and political freedom.

No significant funding will be funneled from campus projects to the Global Campus. Private funding will be needed in order to offset the lack of state funds, according to Dirks.

Dirks mentioned partnering with UCSF to expand interdisciplinary research in global health.

“Students at the UCSF medical school are hungry for what Berkeley has to offer,” said Stephen Hinshaw, campus psychology professor. “We need to shrink the Bay and the Richmond campus will be a great way to do that.”

Some groups have questioned the impact the campus’ proposed development will have on the surrounding Richmond community. On Friday, students and workers called upon Chancellor Dirks to sign a community benefits agreement, a legally binding agreement that would guarantee resources such as affordable housing and health benefits.

According to Dirks, the proposed development falls in line with Richmond’s goals for the development of the South Shoreline area and supports local job creation, focusing on employing women and minorities. Dirks has signed a joint statement of commitment along with Paul Alivisatos, director of the Berkeley Lab, that details plans to partner with the Richmond community throughout the development process.

Contact Sierra Stalcup at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SierraStalcup.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the Berkeley Global Campus as the Berkeley Global College.