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Carol Christ named UC Berkeley chancellor-designate

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If approved by the UC Regents (vote is on Thursday), Christ will be the first woman to serve as the UC Berkeley chancellor. She will be the 11th chancellor overall.

State Dept. Launches Women In Public Service Initiative
Carol Christ will be the new UC Berkeley Chancellor, if approved by the UC Regents.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A replacement has been found for Nicholas Dirks as the next chancellor of University of California, Berkeley. Carol T. Christ is named the new chancellor-designate, pending a vote by the UC Regents this Thursday. If approved, Christ will be the 1st female Cal chancellor and the 11th overall person for the job. She will take over on July 1st, 2017. Dirks announced last year that he will step down as the chancellor once a replacement is found.

“I am delighted that Carol Christ has agreed to lead Berkeley at this pivotal time in the campus’s storied history,” Napolitano said. “From among the many highly qualified candidates for the position, Carol’s exceptional leadership and strategic planning skills, her deep commitment to the university’s core values, her many academic and professional accomplishments, as well as her deep knowledge of, and affection for, UC Berkeley stood out.”

“I feel honored and privileged to lead the campus at this challenging time,” Christ said. “It is a small way to give back for everything the university has given me. My experience at Berkeley has been transformational; it formed my ideas of higher education, and it formed my ideals of higher education. I look forward to working with Berkeley’s many communities in the months and years ahead in a way true to UC’s motto, ‘Fiat lux’ — ‘Let there be light.’”

Christ, age 72, has been a long time English professor at Cal, specializing in Victorian English. She left Cal to become the president of Smith College in 2002 before retiring in 2013. She was hired as the interim executive vice chancellor and provost at Cal late in 2016.

For her position as the interim executive vice chancellor, Christ did a Q&A concerning the budget situation at Cal.

Berkeley News: As of six months ago, the campus faced a 2016-17 budget deficit of $150 million. Can you give us a quick snapshot of where we are now?

Carol Christ: We’re very much on course to meet our target for June of 2017 of a deficit of $110 million. Just to clarify, the deficit would have grown to $170 million had we done nothing. Through a combination of budget cuts and postponement of capital expenses we have reached $110 million. We’re very confident about that number.

So we’ve actually trimmed $60 million from this year’s budget? Where did those savings come from?

Roughly half, $23 million was through a set of across-the-board measures — a 2 percent cut to the non-contract-and-grants salary budgets of all units on campus, plus instruction that all units on campus have to cover the merit increases for their own staff and the increases in benefits costs for their staff. Another $9 million in cuts was directed at specific units, including Intercollegiate Athletics. And then there was about $30 million in deferred capital expenses.

Interestingly, she was asked about ways for Cal to make money. She did not list athletics (particularly football) success as one of the ways to raise revenue.

What kinds of revenue-generating opportunities do you see for the campus?

We’ve identified six: enrollment increases, self-supporting degree programs, monetization of real estate, increase in contract and grant activity, entrepreneurial activity — patent income, agreements with business and industry — and focusing our philanthropy in ways that would support the core.

Unfortunately, some of the early reactions to this news from Cal Athletics sources were apparently not so positive.

Tragically if true, it sounds like Cal is moving closer to cutting sports - although they may also just limit spending and make cuts to the Cal Athletics bureaucracy to meet the new budget.

So Cal fans, what do you think about this potential hire? Please sound off below. We will certainly hear more of Chancellor-designate Christ’ plan in the coming days/weeks/months.

GO BEARS AND FIAT LUX!