- Nicholas DirksChancellor
Prevent the College of Chemistry from being dissolved
UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry is one of the largest and most prestigious chemistry institutions in the world. Its chemistry and chemical engineering programs have consistently been ranked on par with or higher than private schools like MIT, Harvard, and Caltech -- the only public school to do so. Faculty and alumni of the College have received thirteen Nobel Prizes, and researchers at the College of Chemistry were responsible in part for the discovery of over a dozen elements, including Californium, Seaborgium, and our very own Berkelium.
Yet despite the incomparable prestige that the College of Chemistry brings to UC Berkeley, the Chancellor's Office is considering disbanding the College, which dates back to 1872, as a proposed cost-saving measure. There is no doubt that UC Berkeley's high chemistry and chemical engineering rankings and ability to compete with far better-funded departments is due in part to the unique design of the College of Chemistry, which fosters a cooperative and interdisciplinary environment that brings faculty, grad students, and undergraduates together.
Dissolving the College of Chemistry would not only destroy a valuable part of UC Berkeley history, it risks losing the spark that makes Berkeley's chemistry and chemical engineering world-famous. The college's small class size and relatively low student:teacher ratio allow it to maintain its intimate focus on undergraduate research that produces such quality academics. Folding chemistry and chemical engineering into different colleges (Letters & Sciences and Engineering, respectively) damages the intersectionality of these fields, affecting numerous researchers and faculty whose work transcends these boundaries. To top it all off, the College of Chemistry raised more money during the 2015 Big Give than the entire College of Letters & Sciences, despite having less than 5% of the undergraduate population of the latter.
The College of Chemistry is a tightly-knit community that produces unparalleled results in part due to its unorthodox administrative position, with a history that stretches back over a century and alumni that have shaped and defined the course of modern science as we know it. The dissolution of the College of Chemistry would not just affect the students and faculty who call it home, it would be a loss for the University of California and the entire scientific community.
I stand with the College of Chemistry, a historic institution that has made immeasurable contributions to UC Berkeley, the scientific community, and the world. Do not allow the College of Chemistry to be dissolved.
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