After ten years of dedicated service, Jennifer Wolch will be stepping down from her post as Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley at the end of the spring 2019 term. The first woman to serve as dean of the College, Jennifer assumed leadership during a time of intense economic challenge, as well as social discontent symbolized by the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements. Guided by the bedrock values of the College, she has since spearheaded strategies and initiatives that have enhanced CED’s stature as one of the leading design and planning schools in the country.
In this Q&A below, Jennifer reflects on her tenure as dean, her priorities, challenges, joys, and what she looks forward to next.
If you’ve visited San Francisco’s South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood in the past year, you may have noticed a few new, cleverly-designed additions to the area’s streetscape. Parklets, or mini-parks, are small, urban greenspaces that typically take up a portion of a sidewalk or jut out into the street in place of a traditional parking spot. These recreation spaces often accommodate seating, bicycle parking, greenery for pets, or public art, breaking up the densely concrete makeup of urban cityscapes.
As an architecture student at CED, Shawn Tsao fully expected to go into practice once he graduated in 2011. His journey seemed typical — an innate love of art and architecture, parents and teachers who nurtured his interest, acceptance into CED, and a senior-year internship with an architecture firm. But as happens with many CED grads, his path took a twist. And for that, future CED students will be grateful.