Assemblymember Low Talks Higher Education with UC Berkeley Chancellor  Carol Christ

Assemblymember Low Talks Higher Education with UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ

October 2, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


hi everyone Assemblymember Evan Low here
on the campus of UC Berkeley and I’m here with our delighted Chancellor Carol
Christ to have a conversation about the state of California innovation and the
things that are going on on campus so Chancellor thank you so very much the
opportunity to have a conversation with you here today oh thank you Evan I’m
delighted to do it yes now we first met in the state capitol in which you were
advocating for a number of issues with respect to higher education I understand
that now it’s just past the one-year mark of your tenure here as Chancellor
tell us about what that’s been like so far oh it’s been so exciting I’ve met so
many of the members of the community from those people who live in Berkeley
who are on the campus working working on the campus studying on the campus to
people who live around the world and are Berkeley alums and Berkeley connected so
it’s been a very very exciting year I’m sure was the experience what you
anticipated it to be like after a year now yes I think it is what I anticipated
it it to be like I’ve I have a long experience on the Berkeley campus so I
have a pretty good sense of what its challenges are and also what it’s
extraordinary opportunities are oh sure and be sure it’s quite the balance of
such an active population of students parents faculty and community alike in
fact there is a very illustrious professors staff members here and the
world is watching so I’m sure it’s a great opportunity to be engaged with so
many different people yes that’s right I often say that there isn’t a subject in
the world that some faculty member at Berkeley doesn’t only know about but is
really defining the you know the future of oh sure and sting on that personal
conversation what is it like on a day to day basis for you as Chancellor with
respect to the work that you do because I can imagine quite a bit of it is not
only interacting with that of the regions or the legislature and that of
students and parents but how do you balance out those unique challenges when
there’s so much pressure on a world-class University well I spend I
have a great team so I don’t do everything myself of
course I spend probably about half of my time outside the campus and half of my
time on the campus when I was an administrative position my daughter was
a little girl she was um about three years old she was walking around very
you know officiously around the house with a little purse and I said well what
are you doing and she said I’m a mommy and I’m going to a meeting and that’s
really what I do is I spend all my day meeting with people in various
capacities whether they’re members of the administration donors alumni
students both moving the issues forward that I care deeply about but but also
hearing from them understanding their perspectives oh sure I think part of the
role that we have in the legislature is to try to open up the sense of that the
institution’s work for the people that we represent and oftentimes that
challenge then transitioning into the conversation with respect to higher
education and the master plan for the state of California we’ve come far away
from the master plan back in 1960 and talking about the areas of affordability
and what we want to see with respect to the California and American Dream what
do you feel your role is with respect to playing that part in the state of
California with respect to higher education well let me I want to step
away back to the Morrill Act which is the act of Congress under President
Lincoln that established land-grant universities that the government arm
determined passed legislation that gave every state federal land that wanted to
establish a public university and this was an order to educate in the words of
the day the sons and daughters of farmers and factory workers and these
colleges or that now we call them universities became known as the
people’s colleges and that’s the identity that the mission that I feel
very strongly is Berkeley’s mission today so I think our task not just as
the Berkeley campus but the entire University of
California system is to figure out how we can be true to the master plan so
that means extending capacity and we can do that in a number of different ways we
can do that but through increasing our efficiency in other words making sure
that students graduate in either four years or two years we can do it in terms
of expanding the capacity of the system as a whole and and just trying to extend
the benefits of a University of California education to the percentage
of the population that the master plan envisioned the population of the state
of California is growing and much more importantly the graduate high school
graduation rates are increasing so so to stay true to the promise of the master
plan we have to increase capacity sure and that would assume that it’s not just
about then funding a much of the conversation is about funding of course
and the the basics fundamentals but other some things that you have observed
in your experience to which we can have the segment’s have a wider conversation
on on the end goal of attaining that Californian American dream and having
the institutions serve all populations irrespective of opportunity to pay well
there are two things first of all I this may be down and a little bit too much in
the bureaucratic weeds but I was really thought there was a huge loss when the
post-secondary education Commission was defunded because it was the way in which
the parts of the higher education public higher education system in California
shared data and talk to each other and now there is no easy way for us to talk
to each other and I think that that’s absolutely essential we have to be
efficient not just at the University of California but we have to be efficient
as a whole system right the other so I think that there needs to be some public
entity that facility it’s that conversation among the
different segments of California higher education but the other thing that I
think is critical is the transfer function and one of the things that I’ve
done as as Chancellor at Berkeley is brought together
all of the presidents or Chancellor’s whatever their title is of all of the
colleges and universities in the Bay Area because we have so much to say to
each other we have so much in common we just had our second meeting as a
group a few weeks ago and we talked about half the time about the transfer
function and how we can make the transfer function work even better than
it does sure now you previously referred to CPEC and
we had not previously had a conversation on this but I have had a bill before the
legislature and the governor’s desk that has been vetoed every single year I’m
hopeful with a new governor we will take a look at this as another opportunity to
make sure that we have a dialogue and conversation with the segments to making
sure that we can best deliver and we’re not working in isolation but that we
have a conversation in totality on this that’s so important and so important to
share data because we have to figure out where are the bottlenecks what’s working
what isn’t working yes now transition into the issue of innovation we are
their home at the state of California is the home of Silicon Valley silicon beach
we are in the adjacent areas of so much that we have at our disposal and our
economic climate depends on the pipeline and investments of the educated
workforce that comes through the University of Berkeley here at Cal what
have been the conversations been like about the partnerships that could be the
possibilities absent than that of the the state adequately funding higher
education are there some innovations not only with companies here at home but
internationally in terms of the partnerships that are being explored
here you know I don’t have a conversation with a Silicon Valley
leader that doesn’t concern why aren’t you creating more bachelor’s degrees
more PhDs and whatever area interests the particular person it is
so they the Silicon Valley or I should say more broadly innovation in
California needs educated workers it’s so immediately consequential for the
economic health of California that we have a robust system of higher education
and also you know there’s a big debate I’m sure you know about whether
artificial intelligence is going to displace jobs for humans or it’s going
to change them I’m very much of the school of thought that it’s going to
change them but if it changes them you need education to educate workers in
order to do these jobs which need more usually more higher education more
technical training and that’s what I’ve been hearing from a lot of the tech
industry with respect to the future of work and that their training and the
skill sets needed for the future are going to be the the necessary
requirements for our public education and so who is within the institutions
looking at that and making sure that we’re providing those opportunities for
individuals not just with the student body population but the current
workforce and getting those skill sets coming back yeah I that’s so so
important and one of the things that I think is fascinating about just Berkeley
itself is there have grown up a set of incubators and accelerators on the
borders of the campus a Skydeck the house the citrus foundry and these are
places that students undergraduates graduate students faculty take their
ideas and they you know move from idea to business idea very quickly now in
your capacity understand the institutions in the in an ounce and the
nuance between your job and the capacity and that of a separate system under the
university of california if you were talking to the average Californian and
they said to you Chancellor I would support you in what you need to help
empower you to do your job what would that change look like would it be
funding would it be a structural change within
segments would be a governing change what would that be I think the most
important thing is the states funding commitment to the University of
California that you really need both a predictable operational base for the
University and we also really need capital funding that we have since about
2000 2006 I think we haven’t had a general obligation bond issue for higher
education the unit can piss right on the Hayward
Fault many many buildings need seismic retrofit and there’s no funding source
for it no funding source for deferred maintenance so I’m one of the things I
spent a lot of my time doing is raising money but you can’t tell somebody oh
please help us with our deferred maintenance we’ll give a big gift for in
deferred maintenance so so I think there there is an operating budget piece but
there’s also a capital budget piece you Berkeley campus there’s a really
interesting statistic about the Berkeley campus it is number one in the country
in alumni that come from families in the bottom fifth of income distribution
ending up in the top 1% so we are an engine for social mobility but the state
needs to do its part in a funding partnership to enable us to keep doing
that sure I think clearly the distinct should we do that the operating versus
the capital both not being adequately funded from the state of California but
certainly the need and the necessity and the distinction between that of an
expense and an investment an investment in higher education in our university
system will transcend and go far in helping people up the social mobility
factors yeah that’s absolutely absolutely right I love the way in which
you’ve termed it an investment because in fact an investment in higher
education leads to enormous economic benefits for the state of yes
and oftentimes I think we struggle with the general electorate and articulating
some of these values some believe that we just know tax increases at all and
anything but it is our obligation and duties to also help explain to them that
they should not view this just simply as an expense but also an investment and
that there was a help for the long term future for the state of California
that’s absolutely right and people often focus a lot on you know places in the
university for their sons and daughters of course this is really natural but I
want to make sure that people understand to how important the research function
is of the University of California of figuring out what we can do to prevent
the horrible fires that are devastating the state figuring out what the best
investments are in renewable energy resources of figuring out what the best
policy solutions are in terms of immigration and migration there are so
many places where our university is doing research that has a direct public
benefit to the state of California well I appreciate that that you mentioning
that too because not only yourself and your team you’ve all made yourselves
readily available with respect to these policy discussions yes yes now how about
sort of they the issue of being chats from the head of the the world class
system is that a lot of pressure for you oh I guess of course there are times
when there’s a lot of pressure when they’re difficult decisions that have to
be made but I feel so privileged to work with the faculty that I work with to
work with the team that I work with and on my administrative team and and to
have the extraordinary students that we have here so I I yes of course it has
pressure I’m sure your job has pressure but it just is is such a privilege
really to lead an institution sure sir and finally for those who may aspire to
also be in a leadership capacity and trying to make transformational change
what would that one piece of advice be for an individual if they are seeking
that position that I see you in this capacity
maybe someday I also would like to be in a similar capacity or that one piece of
advice be for someone watching oh well work hard show up for work but also
always have your focus on a strategic goal that’s critical for you in your
organization at that moment in time and worked to to to to bring that about
wonderful well thank you very much thank you well you’ve heard it here from the
Chancellor directly about the University here it Berkeley and the importance of
continued engagement and investments in our future thank you very much
Chancellor for being here thank you everyone for watching