UC Berkeley’s administration currently faces unrelenting protests from students and faculty alike regarding the potential dissolution of Berkeley’s College of Chemistry, a well-renowned facet of Berkeley’s prestigious education program. According to officials at the university, budget cuts are necessary to alleviate some of the school’s severe debt, and the College of Chemistry falls victim to such cuts.
If Berkeley follows through with this plan, the chemistry program will be added to the College of Letters and Sciences or the College of Engineering as opposed to having its own independent dean and institution. Although the program itself will still exist, students abhor the termination of the College of Chemistry because of its reputation as one of the best in the world and its long history of producing scientific achievement. Additionally, the removal of one administrative layer will not make a substantial difference in terms of budget, meaning that several other programs will suffer in order to fulfill the desired budget cuts.
The College of Chemistry was founded in 1872, making it one of the first specialized schools within Berkeley. It is the birthplace of several globally recognized scientific achievements, including discovery of new elements, improvements on Lewis structures, and important advancements in genetics. Thus, the public is incredulous about its potential removal; students are creating numerous petitions in an attempt to stop the administration from cutting the college. “Berkeley has a tough decision to make, but the last thing it should be doing is blatantly abandoning the academic programs that make the school as renowned, unique, and interdisciplinary as it is,” commented Johnny Menhennet, a freshman at Berkeley.
University Chancellor Nicholas Dirks attributes UC Berkeley’s debt to tuition freezes and a staggering drop in funding from the state, from making up 50 percent of the university’s budget 25 years ago to only 13 percent today. Dirks and other officials believe that this year’s expenditures will exceed Berkeley’s funds by 150 million dollars.
Many students question the fact that Berkeley designates millions of dollars to the school’s athletic programs, and instead of lessening the funding for these sports teams in order to alleviate debt, officials insist on dismissing a world-class, integral part of Berkeley’s academic prestige. “There is a severe misallocation of school resources away from academic endeavors,” says Menhennet.
As of now, officials state that they have not taken any action to eliminate the College of Chemistry, but explain that it is likely that the college will be dissolved in the near future.
(Sources: NBC, Washington Post, The Daily Californian)