UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources has been renamed the Rausser College of Natural Resources after receiving a donation of $50 million from Gordon Rausser, a former dean of the college.
Continuing the efforts of Rausser’s 40-year commitment to the campus, his contribution is intended to improve the college’s capacity to address economic, social, environmental and health challenges facing the state and the nation, according to a campus press release. Portions of the donation will also be allocated to the Master of Development Practice program’s Rausser-Zilberman Program Endowed Fund, which will aid students, curriculum enhancements and field opportunities abroad.
“(Of) the initial priorities I’m setting, one is that we are absolutely committed to addressing the support for graduate students — that is one of the critical needs we have,” said David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources. “Even as generous as this gift is, it won’t solve all of our problems, I’m sad to say.”
Based on Rausser’s explicit wish, the majority of the funds were placed in an unrestricted endowment, according to Ackerly. The endowment is used at the direction of the dean to support any needs of the five departments within the college, the press release said.
Ackerly added that with a strong consultation process in place, he could not say exactly what programs the donation would go toward, as the process is still in development.
The donation also garnered student reactions. Campus freshman Kat Bako was shocked when she heard about Rausser’s donation.
“You never open your email expecting to read about a $50 million donation resulting in a name change of your college,” Bako said in an email. “Also, we often hear about donations in the contexts of college admission scandals or political schemes, so reading about a generous donation simply to support the college that Rausser cares deeply about is touching.”
Bako added that the donation gives her hope that the funds will be used to have a positive impact on the department, the campus and larger-scale environmental issues.
While some students expressed excitement over the opportunities that may arise from the gift, others voiced their concerns regarding where the money would be allocated.
ASUC Senator Sylvia Targ was surprised at the sudden change in the college’s name, adding that it felt like an overnight occurrence with little student awareness.
“There has been little to no consultation, that I am aware of, to anyone who goes to the College of Natural Resources on this gift,” Targ alleged. “I don’t understand how they plan to have this money support students if they are not even willing to talk to us.”