Dean’s Desk: Lighting the Way

Douglas Clark, Dean, College of Chemistry Douglas Clark, Dean, College of Chemistry

This time of year is typically marked by colorful California poppies and cheerful blossoms decorating the campus and lighting the way to summer. And while nature is still flourishing and the flowers are still blooming, our shared appreciation for the beauty of our campus has been curtailed this season. This spring we have all been coping with unprecedented and unsettling changes to our everyday lives, and constantly wondering what new unwelcome challenges will threaten our usual way of progress and advancement. While these trials have been many, they have not deterred our College’s longstanding commitment to meet the needs of society and produce a better quality of life. 

This spring semester our College community stepped up in many ways at all levels in remarkably short order. Our faculty, students, and staff have magnificently adapted to a remote format for lecture and even laboratory courses; the creative solutions and support offered by our graduate students in this respect were simply amazing. The ingenuity of our graduate students is further highlighted in this issue. All of our students have had to adjust to a completely new learning environment, while at the same time grappling with the many other challenges presented by these trying times. Our dedicated staff remain focused on keeping all the wheels turning, as they always have, in the most competent and efficient way. In all, the cooperation, flexibility, and skill displayed by everyone throughout this tumultuous period has been nothing short of inspiring. I am deeply thankful to all for energizing the key elements necessary to sustain us in this unique adjustment period for the College of Chemistry. 

In concert with the cycles of nature, life goes on. This year we formally commemorate 150 years of women at Berkeley. The first women were admitted to the University in 1872, and the first woman, Rosa Scrivner, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture in 1874. In this issue, we highlight our own stellar women colleagues and alumni, reflecting on the influence these women have had on the College and discussing what the next 150 years will hold. It is truly an exciting time to observe, connect, and collaborate with this network of inspiring women scientists.

As always, we are thrilled to welcome new faculty members to the College who epitomize our research, teaching, and service mission. Four new faculty have joined us this year: Alanna Schepartz, Professor of Chemistry; Polly Arnold, Professor of Chemistry; Michael Zuerch, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; and Karthik Shekhar, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. All are already making their mark on Berkeley and representing the College in innovative and impactful areas.

Our successes would not be possible without your unwavering and enthusiastic support. This past fiscal year, we received $2.4 million in donations from 1,400 donors (students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends), with donations ranging from $5 to over $100,000 to support our core excellence. In total, we raised over $30 million in new gifts and pledges; by far our College’s best fundraising year ever. Already, this current fiscal year is shaping up to be an even larger success! Your encouragement will enable us to provide even greater gateways for our students to cultivate a prosperous and diverse world beyond the College of Chemistry and light the way for future generations.

My message to you would not be complete without acknowledgement of the $25 million commitment from Terry & Tori Rosen to help us transform our College’s landscape with a new modern, state-of-the-art building, which will be named “Heathcock Hall” after Terry’s faculty advisor and mentor, Professor Clayton Heathcock. Heathcock Hall will be located on the south side of the University’s East Gate between Latimer and Lewis Hall and will host faculty and instructional labs, collaborative workspaces, a 250-seat instructional auditorium, and a rooftop meeting and event space with beautiful views of the Berkeley campus and the greater Bay Area.

In this ever-changing climate, the College of Chemistry continues to triumph as a community, both academically and socially. Now more than ever, we come together in spirit to celebrate our collective achievements and look ahead to the future of our institution and our impact on the world. With your continued care of the community that we have all built together, the College of Chemistry will always serve as a guiding light.