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An Evening with Robert Reich: Public policy professor discusses retirement

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Reich is retiring from teaching his popular public policy course.


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MAY 01, 2023

At the conclusion of this spring semester, Robert Reich, the Carmel P. Friesen Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, will officially retire from his teaching position.

On Monday, a sit-down event entitled An Evening with Robert Reich took place in Zellerbach Hall, during which Reich was interviewed about his thoughts on wealth and power, matters pertaining to public policy and his thoughts on retirement.

In a program provided by the Zellerbach staff, Reich was highlighted for his work in three national administrations, his time as Secretary of Labor under former U.S. president Bill Clinton, and for writing 18 books, one of which was translated into 22 languages.

When asked by the interviewer, Professor Emerita of Sociology Arlie Hochschild, how he feels about retiring, Reich simply responded “terrible.”

“What I explained to the Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy when I told him I was thinking about leaving was not that I wanted to leave teaching, but I wanted to leave when I still felt I could do it well,” said Reich.“I didn’t want to feel like I had ever gotten to the point where I was not giving my students what they deserve.”

He noted that he was in the “rare and privileged” group who consider work a calling rather than a burden.

When questioned about his post-retirement plans, Reich will enjoy the lack of deadlines and the respite from the pressure that he currently has. While he knows he is going to stay busy, he added that he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and family.

At the end of the interview, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin E. Hermalin presented Reich with the Berkeley Citation, which is awarded to distinguished individuals whose contributions to UC Berkeley go beyond the expected and exceed the standards of excellence in their fields.

“The chancellor and the UC Berkeley honors committee recently voted to bestow the prestigious Berkeley [citation]*Citation* upon Professor Robert Reich,” said Hermalin at the event. “The citation is awarded on special occasions to someone whose great achievements the university salutes and whose presence honors and benefits the campus.”

Hermalin noted that the nomination packet for Reich was a “hefty and powerful one,” alluding to his long list of contributions to Berkeley’s students and campus.

Hermalin proceeded to read testimonies from Reich’s former GSIs, who praised him for his mentorship and ability to captivate a room of over 500 students.

“(Robert), you’re not only a national treasure, you’re also a true campus citizen. The university is a better place because of you so on behalf of the entire UC Berkeley community it is my honor to say a collective thank you,” Hermalin said, concluding the event.

Contact Lindsay Muangman at 


MAY 01, 2023