Chancellor Nicholas Dirks releases report on campus initiatives and priorities

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Chancellor Nicholas Dirks released a report on campus initiatives and priorities Wednesday, covering accomplishments and future plans for the 2014-2015 school year.

The report highlights several efforts to improve the equity and inclusiveness of the campus community, sustain research enterprises and enhance the undergraduate experience.

According to a 2013 Campus Climate Survey, 1 in 4 students experienced exclusion on campus. Most of that exclusionary behavior, vice chancellor of equity and inclusion Gibor Basri said, happens in peer to peer groups.

“We want diversity not just for the sake of diversity, but for the sake of a much more robust — and in the end more productive — community, where everyone can perform at their highest,” Dirks said.

Initiatives to improve campus climate in 2015 include new curricula for GSI training, staff professional development and the continuation of grants that fund projects dedicated to promoting equity and diversity.

Basri said, however, there are some top level conceptual issues the campus still needs to resolve. He said that while discussion and visibility of these issues has increased, it must be sustained.

Samya Abdela, the transfer recruitment and retention director for the Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, said she attended a Feb. 6 campus climate symposium, but has experienced racial exclusion by a faculty member on campus. She added that the campus still needs to do more, and that campus administrators should also have attended the symposium.

Those who were absent were “the very people we need to be at the table listening to student concerns,” Abdela said in an email.

The report states that although UC Berkeley comparatively receives a significant portion of federal funding as a top research institution, federal funding is flat or in decline, putting further pressure on the campus to rely on private sources that don’t adequately cover overhead costs.

While the campus’ focus continues to be research, it also plans to increase investment in programs that support students’ commercial implementation of their findings. Dirks said these programs will provide another way to showcase the concrete benefits of campus research and will encourage individuals supported by the programs to reinvest in the school.

The report also encompasses the launch of the Student Information System, a new system that combines several existing student databases.

Dirks said a general goal of his undergraduate initiative, which will include codifying objectives of undergraduate education and designing the curriculum for a new data sciences course, is increasing the feeling of community among undergraduates.

“We’re thinking about costs all the time,” Dirks said. “We’re thinking about how to trim costs. But we don’t want to trim the excellence of what we do. We don’t want a report to say: ‘2015: We survived.’”

Contact Suhauna Hussain and Elaina Provencio at [email protected].