Campus considers dissolving the College of Chemistry to cut costs

Rachael Garner/Senior Staff

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The campus is considering dissolving the College of Chemistry and integrating it into another college as a cost-cutting measure.

The dissolution of the college is one of many options the administration is considering as the campus faces a growing and unsustainable deficit, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“This is just a bad idea,” said campus senior Jonathan Melville, who created a petition Wednesday against the potential dissolution. “The College of Chemistry is vital to the academic prestige of Berkeley, and it’s a cornerstone of Berkeley’s historical scientific prowess.”

Mogulof said, however, that no concrete plans have been made yet regarding the status of the college. Campus officials are currently in the comprehensive planning phase, examining potential ways to make the campus more financially sustainable, Mogulof said.

“(The campus) is guided by the want to strengthen, not diminish, the academic foundation,” Mogulof said.

David Wemmer, chair of the campus department of chemistry, said the chemical and biomolecular engineering department could be integrated into the College of Engineering, and the chemistry department into the College of Letters and Sciences.

This example of reorganization might save money on a salary for a dean in the College of Chemistry, Wemmer said, but the respective colleges would still need to hire more staff.

“Academically, intellectually, we don’t see advantages,” Wemmer said. “But our perspective on financial advantages might not be the same as the highest administration.”

The Office of Strategic Initiatives is considering the restructuring of other colleges in addition to the College of Chemistry, Wemmer said.

The College of Chemistry was established in 1872. In the 20th century, researchers in the college at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discovered nine elements now on the periodic table. Today, the college is known as a pioneer in traditional and emerging fields of chemistry.

By Thursday evening, Melville’s petition, which addresses Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, had gained more than 1,800 signatures — more than the College of Chemistry’s undergraduate population.

Melville created the petition after Jeffrey Long, a professor of chemistry for whom he works, discussed the issue with some of his student researchers.

“I probably wouldn’t have come here if it weren’t for the College of Chemistry,” said Alec Glisman, a campus freshman in the college.

According to the February campus announcement of financial instability, campus administrators have been discussing ways to manage the budget deficit since June, talking with the Academic Senate, college deans, UC Berkeley Foundation trustees and the UC Office of the President, among others.

“Concerns are understandable, but I really want to emphasize that no decisions have been made,” Mogulof said.

The campus will deal with the budget issue in a transparent manner, Mogulof said, accepting input from students and faculty.


Ericka Shin covers research and ideas. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ericka_shin.

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  • JollyGreenChemist

    Chemistry is what made Berkeley prestigious in the first place. There is plenty of administrative bloat all over the campus. Just cut a few associate or assistant deans and their staffs and you’d save for more money than this stupid reorganization would. Moreover. Chemistry and Chemical Engineering belong together NOT in separate schools.

  • lspanker

    I see the hypersensitive special snowflakes are deleting comments again when they can’t answer questions they don’t wish to hear. Once again, instead of dissolving one of the organizations that has produced substantive research and built Berkeley’s reputation as a world-class institution, how about shutting down the various and sundry basket-weaving and race/class/gender/sexual orientation grievance/victim studies departments and their associated staff and facilities, given that most of them aren’t academically rigorous to be university-level programs in the first place? How come everyone’s afraid to address that question?

    • Max Fitton

      Do you have any evidence for any of your claims? I get the impression that you haven’t read any papers by professors in these fields, because the claim that there isn’t rigorous research going on in the (non-sarcastic) fields you’ve mentioned is just absurd. The only point you can really stand on is thinking that those fields of study are less important than others, which is your opinion. As a student of computer science very sympathetic to the idea of the warp drive’s invention, I absolutely and completely disagree with the statement that the key to scientific advancement is the neglect of the humanities and social sciences. The study of how we, as humans, behave is incredibly important. Fields like economics have driven wealth creation to levels that the world had not seen before the modern era. At the same time, fields like psychology help us understand people’s needs and vagaries, so that we may try to keep diverse groups of people with different interests happy together. Not to mention the importance of humanities that are directly linked to politics, like women and gender studies, that have important implications for bringing half of the world (!) to a state of social equality through which they can be more empowered to help bring about more advancement.

      The neglect of what makes us human in a single minded pursuit of the material and the objective would lead society to woe–we are not machines and should not pretend to be.

  • Willliam Wallace

    But Hey, you got a nearly new, massively gilded Stadium on the Fault for
    your losing Athletic Program to use. Who needs Chemistry when you have

    • Del_Varner

      WHo needs african-American studies, confused gender studies, …, when you have sports?

  • Paul Bristol

    Fire the diversity deans instead.

  • Destroy Talmudists

    There’s a reason why the followers of the sickening book of hate and pedophilia called The Talmud were banned for hundreds of years from attending universities in Europe, and you’re looking at that reason right here in this article.

  • Destroy Talmudists

    They should convert ALL the science departments and other racist subjects of The Evil White Male™ into even more Diversity Studies and Gay and Lesiban and Pedophile Studies departments, so we can have all diversity, all the time! There’s never enough time to study the AWESOME CONTRIBUTIONS OF BLACKS AND HISPANICS<,LIKE THIER NON_STOP VIOLENCE AND STUPIDITY, and the BRILLIANT CONTRIBUTIONS OF JEWISH PEDOPHILE HOMOSEXUAL FOLLOWERS OF THE TALMUD.

    "Rab makes nine years the minimum; but if one committed sodomy with a child of lesser age, no guilt is incurred. Samuel makes three the minimum."

    – The Talmud, the "holy book" of Judaism. Now you know why these scumbags grow up to be "marriage equality activists" who stage fake shootings like Sandy Hook, Charlie Hebdo, and San Bernardino to try and ban guns.

  • Anonymous

    Want to cut some departments? Ok. Here is list: ethnic and women’s studies, most of the humanities, and probably most social sciences. Useless. But Chemistry, for crying out loud?

    • Destroy Talmudists

      You are a racist, sexisty, homophobe, and unless you recite 100 “hail diversity’s” then you should be expelled. You should be forced to write “I love the diversity that inbred Talmudic commie homosexuals of yesteryear have brought to my university” or else you should be expelled.

    • Max Fitton

      The Chemistry department would remain. Right now, there’s a Chemistry program in 3 different colleges, and its funding dwarfs any of the other majors you’ve mentioned. Also, you shouldn’t be so quick to gut the humanities. Mankind needs scientific process, sure, but it also needs people who know about our history, how we behave, what it means to be human… None of these are unimportant questions, and not all education must be pre-professional. I don’t know whether I’m for or against the proposal because I have no idea how much the chemistry department would be hurt by the change or how much money would be saved. Given that you don’t have any of that information either, it appears you may be leaping to shallow, reactionary conclusions rather than giving this any serious thought.

      • lspanker

        Right now, there’s a Chemistry program in 3 different colleges, and its funding dwarfs any of the other majors you’ve mentioned.

        As it should, given that Chemistry is far more useful than many of those other programs, and that the College of Chemistry has made an impact disproportional to its size on this planet. Once again, how many elements have they discovered over in the Ethnic Studies department again, other than perhaps the dreaded toxic Administratium?

  • Anonymous

    Just whose bone-headed idea was this? Chemistry, like the other basic sciences, is too important to toss out the window.

    • Del_Varner

      That’s right! We need STEM teachers, but we don’y need STEM research and teaching?

    • lspanker

      Think about this: If the College of Chemistry were dissolved and the Chemistry department placed in L&S, who would become the new benefactors of all those donations and endowments earmarked for Chemistry? This has NOTHING to do with ANYONE giving a rodent’s behind about the salaries and overhead of the Dean and his staff, especially given the fact there are HUNDREDS of positions that could be eliminated elsewhere without impacting real students one bit. It’s clearly a money grab by L&S to cover their own deficits, and nothing more.

  • lspanker

    Just a quick perusal of the Berkeley Nobel Laureate page shows that 7 Cal faculty and an additional 8 PhD students from Cal have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. How many Nobel Prizes have they won over in PACS or Gender & Women’s Studies again?

    • Destroy Talmudists

      That is a very un-doiverse opionion, and you might offend one of the inbred pedophile homosexual followers of The Talmud who brought such wonderful diversity to our campus!

      You must write “I LOVE TALMUDIC DIVERSITY” on the board 100 times as penance.

  • Curtis Jones

    Protect the hard sciences and flush a bunch of the useless liberal drivel schools down the drain. We need a warp drive to get off of this rock not schools that whine about diversity and income inequality!

  • Gene Nelson

    Some people need to increase their reading comprehension. Nothing in the article indicates they are eliminating the departments. They are thinking of eliminating the Dean and Dean’s staff and combine the departments with other colleges which already have Deans. Some of you need to take a major chill pill.

    • Destroy Talmudists

      Yeah, these people who are all into science and other oppressive and racist studies and s h i t really don’t seem to value the diverse contributions of inbred Talmudic pedophiles and their pet african apes. They should just chill out and be more diverse!

  • cnr is far more useless than the college of chemistry. priorities dirks!

  • CalAlum99

    If the college is known as a pioneer, why aren’t they raking in endowment donations and grants to be self-sufficient?

    • lspanker

      Cal won’t acknowledge the silent boycott of many alumni who are fed up with the waste and inefficiency, as well as the use of UC resources to conduct partisan political activity such as spending money on attorneys to fight Prop 209.

      • Destroy Talmudists

        I graduated from Cal, and I would never give that university one penny of my money. The only money they will ever see of mine is to fund ARMED WHITE SECURITY PATROLS to get rid of feral african apes in Berkeley, and do the job that the BPD and university police won’t do.

    • irony

      They are raking in a decent amount of money, though–CoC raised $480K in donations during the 2015 Big Give (compare to ~$380K for College of Letters and Sciences). Not sure what you mean by “self-sufficient,” though.

  • lspanker

    Instead of dissolving one of the organizations that has produced substantive research and built Berkeley’s reputation as a world-class institution, how about shutting down the various and sundry basket-weaving and race/class/gender/sexual orientation grievance/victim studies departments and their associated staff and facilities?

    • Nunya Beeswax

      The only thing dissolved would be the College of Chemistry. The programs currently in that college would be distributed to Arts & Sciences or Engineering, as appropriate.

      Honestly, it doesn’t make much sense to me for Chemistry (a scientific discipline) to have its own college. That being said, though, I can’t see that there would be any great savings from doing so. You’d lose one dean and his support staff at the most.

      Dirks probably doesn’t have the guts to do it, but if I were in his job I’d start to ruthlessly slash middle-management and admin positions. Over the past 21 years, there has been a 252% growth in managment jobs with a total 51% increase in total employees. Get rid of the supervisors who are supervising other supervisors. Cut Athletics loose to face its own budgetary reckoning. We might have a fighting chance, then.

      • Mark Talmont

        The heart of the matter; even the Huffington Post admitted as much when it published the graph showing the nearly-45 degree angle rate of increase in purely administrative staff in higher ed since the 90s. The Clinton gang made the credit flow to their allies who hired up a small army of good checkbook Democrat activists (while Biden, Dodd and Schumer helped engineer a bankruptcy “reform” that excluded student debt)–remember this the next time you hear Hilary wail about the cost of college. The feds turned this scheme into a profit center!
        see this, so far only heard on the late night “CoastAM” show:

      • lspanker

        Dirks probably doesn’t have the guts to do it

        University administrators tend to be political creatures and therefore tend to stick their heads in the sand when faced with any situation requiring a semblance of a spine.

      • Hao Wu

        Funded in 1872, the College of Chemistry has a history longer than any other schools and colleges within Cal, and a huge portion of developments in modern chemistry is linked to the college (Lewis structure, discovery of man-made elements, the Manhattan Project, mechanism of photosynthesis, genetic-editing etc..). This is not one dean we are talking about, it’s an institution with 150 years of excellence. Any chemist would be abhorred by the idea of dissolving it (As a matter of fact, the petition has garnered support from faculties at many world’s leading institution, and gained attention from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Science Magzine).

        The environment created by the College of Chemistry also gives its students a much better experience than their counterparts in the College of Letters and Science. The College of Chemistry also attracts more talents: Many of my friends at the college would have chosen private schools rather than UC Berkeley, if the college hadn’t existed.

        • Destroy Talmudists

          Yeah, but it’s not diverse enough in its devotion to non-stop diversity within a diverse framework of diversity. Also, there were no classes on the contributions of Talmudic Pedophile Homosexuals to Chemistry. SO it will have to be shut down, SORRY!!!!

        • Willliam Wallace

          That was then. This is NOW.

          Look at your watch, are you on Utah time?

          • Hao Wu

            Seems like you are having lots of fun trolling, William. “NOW” CoC is still at the top in chemistry and chemical engineering, just do some background study man. Also just to let you know, I don’t have a watch and I am on Eastern Standard Time.

          • lspanker

            WW is merely using his sharply honed argumentation skills he developed as a PACS major. Impressive, huh?

  • Alex

    Start paying up alumni!

    • lspanker

      The UC system seems to be flush enough to create specialized victim studies programs, funnel millions into fighting the will of the California voters a la Prop 209, and provide special funding for people not even in the country legally, so why should we be coughing up any more money? The UC system does not have a financing problem, what it has is a FISCAL MANAGEMENT problem. Maybe it’s time to start cutting out the giveaways to special interest groups, stop wasting money on fluff programs, and fire the people running the show if they can’t make it on the money they have.

      • CalAlum99

        Yup, take a look at what UC has spent on UC Path already…talk about waste.

  • M2000

    Why are far left student groups still receiving tax payer money?

    • chriskildegaard

      Care to explain what you’re referring to, exactly?

      • M2000

        They’re the ones adding classes people don’t need. Peace studies…how are we paying for that?

        • chriskildegaard

          You just said it yourself – tax subsidies (and probably tuition, while you’re at it).

          Of course, classes you need are probably classes some other people don’t, and vice versa. If everyone complains about sharing the cost of unneeded classes, things aren’t gonna function very well.

          • Destroy Talmudists

            Of course, nobody needs to waste their time on idiot majors for affirmative action dummies like “women’s studies” and other waste-of-time bullsh!t brought here by the inbred, genetically-mutated commie followers of The Talmud.

    • Destroy Talmudists

      Because the followers of The Talmud run the university now, and they love to undermine institutions built by White Christians, such as UC Berkeley. They like to install their pet african apes there to disrupt and undermine the educational process of the Whites they hate so much.

      • chriskildegaard

        UC Berkeley, and all of our public colleges in California, serve a lot of different people, not just “White Christians”. Your hatred of people who aren’t like you isn’t going to help anything.

  • Bob Bell

    Why do proposed cost cuttings never involve the Associate to the Assistant Dean for Diverse Diversities? It would seem their duties might have some overlap with the Assistant to the Associate Dean for Diversity Diverseness.

    • Someone

      Or the Department of Ya-Da-Ya-Da Studies? Or the Dean of Do You Want Fries With That?

    • lspanker

      “Diversity” is obviously a higher priority for the Cal administration than maintaining those genuine academic programs that at least save some face and keep the entire campus from being regarded as a laughingstock…

    • Anonymous

      The Diversity Degree program should be abolished with the Department of BS.