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Golden Nuggets: Coach Sonny Dykes is using Berkeley's esteemed professors and the Faculty Fellows program to instill an academic culture

Coach Sonny Dykes is bringing professors into the fold to reinforce the ever-present importance of academics in his program.

Cal Bears Online

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The Faculty Fellows program is helping bridge academics and athletics by bringing professors into our program and showing them what it's like to be a student-athlete at Cal. This relationship demonstrates the improved commitment to academics by Coach Sonny Dykes, who wants to reinforce for his players that our program will have an inherent academic nature.

The idea is to bring the football program and the faculty together and alleviate any preexisting stereotypes about football and student-athletes at Cal.

"I think meeting and getting to know student-athletes and getting to know the various systems for the different teams helps you understand all that's involved in being a student-athlete," said Martha Olney, an adjunct professor in Cal's Department of Economics. "One of the things that always impresses me about the student-athletes is how incredibly good they have to be at time management. In order to be able to complete the various tasks takes a lot of skill at time management. That always impresses me a lot."

The professorswho have noticed an improved focus on academicsare taking advantage of this opportunity to learn about being a student-athlete, an experience few of them have.

"Part of what you are trying to do is break down stereotypes, which is important," [economics professor Martha] Olney said. "Faculty are people who were not athletes by and large, when we were in school. We were the nerds. We probably come to our jobs with a lot of stereotypes about athletes because that's just not who we were. Breaking down stereotypes is always about familiarity. So I think that any way in which faculty can become a little more familiar with what is a very foreign world to them is important."

In fact, this mission of connecting out student-athletes to our faculty beyond the classroom is moving past football and becoming part of all our sports thanks to the recent Student-Athlete Faculty Appreciation Mixer. I spy with my little eye one of the most beloved bioengineering faculty members in the video!

The university is also helping prepare our students for life after football by training them in career development and a professional life thanks in large part to a former Cal safety, Director of Career Development Ron Coccimiglio, a.k.a. Coach Coach.

UC Berkeley/Cal


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