California is stronger because of its remarkable diversity. The same can be said for the state’s public institutions of higher learning.
When former U.C. Berkeley chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau took office in 2005, he presented a vision of Cal as a more equitable and inclusive university. In 2010, the Haas, Jr. Fund supported this vision with a $16 million gift to help launch the U.C. Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, a sweeping effort to make equity and inclusion a priority in every corner of the Cal campus.
“California’s future depends on initiatives like this,” said Robert D. Haas, Cal alumnus and treasurer of the Haas, Jr. Fund’s board of directors. “We need to make the most of our state’s rich diversity by expanding educational opportunities and by preparing all students for life and leadership in a diverse and complex world where intercultural competence is vital.”
The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society is a key component of the U.C. Berkeley initiative. It includes seven endowed chairs in the U.C. Berkeley Diversity Research Center, where faculty study and teach on issues from economic and education disparities to equality for gay and lesbian Americans. The goal of the Haas Institute is to ensure that issues of equity, diversity, and democracy remain a focal point for research and teaching at Cal for decades to come.
California’s future depends on initiatives like this.Robert D. Haas, Haas, Jr. Fund trustee
Haas Institute Director john a. powell has become a national leader in focusing attention on the value of diversity and inclusiveness — and on the dangers of what he has termed “othering.” “When we pretend we are not connected to each other, we are in the process of othering,” powell explained recently. “But the truth is we are deeply connected to each other. And the question is how do we learn to celebrate that, exercise that muscle and make the most of our connections.”
The Haas, Jr. Fund’s grant also supports enhanced course offerings, diversity training for faculty and staff, and undergraduate scholarships for students from low-income families, particularly community college transfer students and those displaying leadership in their communities.
A Long Tradition at Cal
The Haas, Jr. Fund has a tradition of involvement with U.C. Berkeley, including support for Cal’s undocumented students, research efforts on socially responsible corporate business practices at the Haas School of Business, renovations and improvements to the university’s Bancroft Library, and construction of the Walter A. Haas, Jr. Pavilion and Cal’s Student Athlete High Performance Center to help students excel in sports as well as the classroom.
The Haas, Jr. Fund supported the planning effort for the U.C. Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The resulting plan, issued in late 2009, called for the transformation of Cal into “an equitable and inclusive academy of the highest caliber.”
With this initiative underway, Cal is striving to make this transformation real and to fulfill its historic public mission as a center of opportunity for all people.