Bank of the West partnership with UC Berkeley remains mutually beneficial in coming year

Deborah Chen/Staff

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Bank of the West has opened its doors to more international students this semester as its partnership with UC Berkeley continues to offer financial literacy training and accessibility to students.

Beth Hale, executive vice president and head of product and payment solutions of the bank’s consumer banking division, said in an email that the bank believes several factors led to the success of the bank this fall. In the past, Bank of the West has funded many programs at UC Berkeley, including 24 student scholarships, the financial literacy program and the UC Berkeley Food Pantry, which generates an average of $40,000 in annual contributions that go toward purchasing fresh produce for students, according to Amber Hopkins, spokesperson for the campus’s University Partnership Program.

“(T)he bank has now participated in several events, including orientation, where students have become more aware of our presence on campus,” Hale said in an an email. “(O)ur international Banking Group worked closely with the International population to provide tips and answer questions about Banking in the US.”

According to Hopkins, students who choose to use Bank of the West can take part in the Bank at School program, designed to offer students access to preferred services, financial guidance on campus and other special benefits.

“I chose it because of the close proximity, since there’s an office in the (Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union) building and also because they have so many atms on campus,” said campus freshman Ambika Mukherjee in an online message.

Mukherjee added that employees of the bank are very helpful and understanding of the confusion that students face as new account holders of a bank.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union had ATMs temporarily installed in fall 2015 and permanent ATMs installed in October 2016 as part of a “branch build-out,” Hopkins said. Bank of the West also has 13 other ATMs located in various campus locations.

Campus freshman Keegan Ball said in an online message that although he already has a bank, he is considering making Bank of the West his new “go-to” at Berkeley. Ball said he plans to open a checking account with the bank because campus students get a $50 bonus if they open an account before Sept. 22.

Hopkins said the relationship between Bank of the West and the campus builds on a 20-year partnership between the bank and the campus’s athletic department. UC Berkeley and Bank of the West announced a new 10-year agreement in 2015, with Bank of the West being named the “Official Bank of UC Berkeley.”

“With this agreement, the university was able to broaden the partnership to secure benefits for the campus’s students, faculty, staff and alumni community,” Hopkins said in her email.

Kate Tinney is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @K_Tinney.