Campaign seeks to secure funding to preserve Anna Head School

Photo of sign outside Anna Head alumni hall
Katie lee/Staff
Saving Anna Head School is a campaign meant to bring awareness and funds for Anna Head School, which was founded in 1887.

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Community-led campaign Saving Anna Head School is raising awareness of the dilapidated state of Anna Head School and calling on campus administrators to provide funds to help preserve it.

Located on Channing Way across from Crossroads, Anna Head School was founded in 1887 by women’s education pioneer and campus alumna Anna Head. Since then, the school has educated thousands of students — many of whom were ultimately admitted to UC Berkeley, according to the Saving Anna Head School website and an email from chair of the Saving Anna Head School steering committee Paul Chapman.

Anna Head School’s operations were moved to Oakland in 1964 and renamed Head-Royce School, the website states. The website adds that in the 1950s, UC Berkeley obtained the rights to the school’s buildings through eminent domain.

According to campus spokesperson Kyle Gibson, three of the six buildings that compose the school have since been fully refurbished, including creating a student counseling center and the Alumnae Hall.

Gibson said in an email that while some of the buildings have been refurbished, three buildings still need renovations. These buildings house the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, or ISSI. Gibson noted that the state of these buildings is unsafe, and ISSI has had to adjust its operations to accommodate community members with disabilities.

“Decades of reduced State support for the University of California has limited every campuses’ ability to address deferred maintenance,” Gibson said in the email. “With limited capacity it is challenging to implement the full range of capital projects necessary to address our deferred maintenance backlog.”

Gibson noted that the cost to refurbish the three buildings is more than $40 million, which makes funding the main obstacle.

Chapman acknowledged campus’s funding challenges in an email but said that Anna Head School is worth prioritizing and preserving due to its historical significance.

“For the students currently attending Cal, it is vital that they have a visible reminder of the early history of the University that has now become one of the world’s best,” Chapman said in the email.

Chapman added that Saving Anna Head School was “encouraged” when it learned that campus had already allocated funds to tarp the buildings and is seeking funding to provide lights, cameras and fencing for the buildings.

The campaign’s year-end report suggests creating residence hall housing on the site of the three unrefurbished buildings. Chapman said this would generate revenue while addressing the issue of student housing.

“Constructing a dorm would help the University meet its goal of adding over 11,000 student beds in the next decade,” Chapman said in the email. “We believe this idea would be welcomed by a broad cross-section of the community, including the City of Berkeley.”

Karen Vo is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @karenvo_DC.