The Dean’s Advisory Council — an evolution of the CED Alumni (CEDA) board of directors which had served the college since 1990 — has grown to a diverse group of 26 alumni and friends who act as close advisors to the dean and ambassadors of the college.
“I appreciate CED’s focus on designing an integrated educational experience that acknowledges the critically important challenges associated with shaping the environment, whether through physical or policy means, as the world becomes ever smaller. I am honored to be part of the Dean’s Advisory Committee and am happy to support the work at CED through this involvement.”
— Lydia Tan, B.Arch ’83
Senior Vice President, Development for the Western U.S., Bentall Kennedy
Members of the Dean’s Advisory Council — which include such notable alumni as San Francisco Foundation CEO Fred Blackwell, Johnson Fain founders Scott Johnson and William Fain, SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf, Walt Disney Company Director of Health Management Barbara Wachsman, and SWA Group Chairman John Wong — represent a range of professions and geographies and comprise not only graduates from the three departments within CED, but also notable leaders from outside the college. The Council was originally chaired by Bob Lalanne and the current chair is Sylvia Kwan. Membership in the Dean’s Advisory Council is by invitation of the dean of the college.
While Advisory Council members pledge an annual contribution to the CED Annual Fund during their three-year term of service, their greater impact comes from bringing their professional expertise to help CED leadership shape activities, programs, and facility development; and inspiring others in the CED family to make contributions in support of these endeavors.
Advisory Council members generously give their time and talent, often going above and beyond, with significant in-kind and pro-bono support to build the CED community, help students, and aid the dean in making improvements to Wurster Hall. Maintaining and nurturing the CED community is essential to the prosperity of the college. Members in New York and Los Angeles go out of their way to coordinate or host both intimate events and large-scale programs, allowing alumni outside the Bay Area to network and continue their relationship with CED.
“The Dean’s Advisory Council is a tremendous way for me to remain connected to Berkeley — important both personally and professionally as a way to keep Disney on the cutting edge of architecture, urban/environmental planning. Having direct exposure to Dean Wolch and other Cal faculty is an absolute dream and allows me to remain up to date about Cal and my professional community. We love to hire Wurster grads at Disney and the Council is a great way to stay informed about what that next generation’s values and interests are.”
— Barbara Wachsman, M.C.P. ’83
Director of Health Management, The Walt Disney Company
Providing professional internships within their firms and supporting internship programs is another endeavor where Council members are an invaluable resource. Internships programs, such as CED’s On-SITE, allow students to enhance their education with practical hands-on experience in firms while introducing these organizations to some of the brightest and most determined design students soon to enter the market. Advisory Council members also enrich the student experience by conveying their knowledge and professional expertise through accepting faculty invitations to speak at classes, participate in reviews, or by making the significant financial commitment to sponsor a studio course.
Generous pro-bono and financial contributions by Advisory Council members ensure that Wurster Hall facilities meet the needs of current and future students and faculty. Members have played an important role in helping improve Wurster Hall — contributing to the Gallery, first and second-floor lobbies, Flex Studios, and the Digital Fabrication Lab which houses new digitally controlled equipment. The new Materials Store, where CED students can purchase fabrication supplies, was also realized through the generous financial support of a Council member.
One of the most essential contributions the Advisory Council makes is in supporting the dean in strategic planning. Members played an active role in developing the 2012 Strategic Plan, supporting the implementation of a road map that will be the touchstone for planning and fundraising for the next 5 to 10 years.
In addition to their fundraising support for several key initiatives built into the strategic plan such as Flex Studios — the campaign to update Wurster’s studios with multiple platforms for creativity, research, and design collaboration — the Dean’s Advisory Council is also called upon to encourage others to give to the CED Annual Fund.
Over the last several years, this group’s commitment to the CED Fund has made a significant difference to the college. An essential resource as CED faces critical issues that challenge today’s public educational institutions, the CED Fund provides the college with crucial support for a variety of activities, including educational programming and opportunities such as lectures, exhibits, and international studios; the research efforts of our outstanding junior faculty; and CED’s Career Services, an office dedicated to helping our students launch their professional careers.
Contributors of $1000 or more to the CED Fund become members of the Wurster Society. For the past three decades, members of the Wurster Society have provided leadership gifts to meet high-priority needs and to allow CED to capitalize on unexpected opportunities.
“I am honored to serve on the Dean’s CED Council in an effort to stay engaged and help support the Wurster Hall community. I owe so much of my own success to Berkeley and CED that it is a pleasure to help sustain its great future.”
— Vishaan Chakrabarti, M.Arch ’96
Principal, SHoP Architects, Professor, Columbia University
“We applaud the incredible efforts that the Dean’s Advisory Council has made on behalf of CED, the successes they’ve achieved, and their essential role in helping ensure that the college can meet the needs of current and future students” said CED Dean Jennifer Wolch. “The personal friendships that develop from Advisory Council collaborations are one of most rewarding aspects of my service as dean.”
“Being a part a of the Dean’s advisory committee is both an honor and fulfilling. It gives me an opportunity to stay connected to the school in a meaningful way and make a contribution to its continued success. Jennifer’s leadership has been great for the school and I am grateful for the opportunity to help.”
— Fred Blackwell, M.C.P. ’96
CEO, San Francisco Foundation
Current members of the Dean’s Advisory Council include:
- Kofi Bonner, Regional Vice President, Lennar Urban
- Fred Blackwell, CEO, San Francisco Foundation
- Ricardo L. Capretta, President, Capretta Properties Inc.
- Vishaan Chakrabarti, Principal, SHoP Architects/Holliday Professor of Real Estate, Columbia University
- James R. Crawford, Partner, Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP
- Brian Dougherty, Founder, Dougherty and Dougherty Architecture
- Gray B. Dougherty, Partner, Dougherty and Dougherty Architecture
- William Fain, Founder, Johnson Fain
- David Friedman, Principal and Chairman, Forell/Elsesser Engineers
- Jhaelen Hernandez-Eli, Founder, Hernandez-Eli Architects
- Jackson Hsieh, Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Morgan Stanley
- Scott Johnson, Founder, Johnson Fain
- Chris Kent, Principal, PGA Design
- Sylvia P. Kwan, Founder, Kwan Henmi Architecture/Planning
- Michael Lin, Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial Services
- Tom Mead, Vice President of Construction Management, Equity Residential
- Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director, SPUR
- Michael Painter, President, MPA Design
- Lydia Tan, Senior Vice President, Development for the Western U.S., Bentall Kennedy
- Barbara Wachsman, Director of Health Management, The Walt Disney Company
- Judd Williams
- John Wong, Managing Principal and Chairman, SWA Group
- Joseph O. Wong, Founding Principal, JWDA
- Paul Woolford, Design Director, Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK)
“I have really enjoyed contributing to the Dean’s Advisory Council. In return it has given me a lot. My understanding of the college’s educational focus has been broadened and clarified. I also have a much better appreciation of the expertise of the faculty. After each meeting/event I find my mind spinning with ideas — reminiscent of being a student again.”
— Chris Kent, M.L.A ’93
Principal, PGA Design
“The Advisory Council exposes me to the accomplishments of CED’s faculty and students, as well as the college’s initiatives and aspirations; it’s invigorating. I am emboldened to make meaningful contributions to the professional trajectory of our young alumni and strengthen the CED community in New York, where I practice.”
— Jhaelen Hernandez-Eli, B.Arch ’02
Founder, Hernandez-Eli Architects
“The UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design is of vital importance to our Northern California design community; it creates a place for critical thinking and discourse, and fills our design studios with emerging talent. Our practices depend upon UCB to fill this role, and as such it’s been a privilege to serve on the Dean’s Council at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. It’s an honor to be able to give something back in return.”
— — Paul Woolford
These efforts have been led by Susan Hagstrom, Director of Undergraduate Programs, and Renee Chow, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. Several strategies have been important. They include aggressive recruiting via the CED website, social networking, and visits to high schools and community colleges. Adviser Omar Ramirez serves as Undergraduate Diversity Officer, working with campus on larger student recruitment strategies. And, since peer-to-peer relationships are always persuasive, Susan and her advising team created the CED Admissions Ambassadors Internship Program, that mobilized current CED undergraduates to speak to high school and community college groups, talk to prospective students, and chat with them on the web.
The results have been striking: CED is now home to UC Berkeley’s highest percentage of students coming from households of modest means, indicated by their eligibility for Pell Grants, as well as the highest percentage of historically underrepresented minority students and many immigrant and first generation college students. In 2012-13, 48% of CED undergraduates received Pell Grants, 16% above the campus average. Our unique student body creates a rich and vibrant community within the College of Environmental Design. Also enlivening our community are growing numbers of out-of-state and international students.
UC Berkeley’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Program insures that students coming from families with modest household incomes ($80,000 or less), do not pay tuition or fees. But the financial constraints of many CED students present distinct challenges for them: according to UC Berkeley’s Financial Aid Office, in 2014, the average family income of CED Pell Grant recipients was under $25,000. And, because CED offers design-based majors, our students face additional costs. They need an up-to-date computer that can run design and animation software, and are also required to purchase modeling, building and art supplies and to print and plot (in 2 and 3 dimensions) to complete their projects and their degree programs. Architecture majors, for example, spend on average more than $3600 per year (excluding books or computer). This amount constitutes 15% of the average family income of CED students who receive Pell Grants.
Thus almost half of our 570 undergraduate students struggle to cover both their living expenses, and the added costs of a CED education. This situation directly impacts their performance in school. As one student wrote to us, “Coupled with costs for model-making materials, each project becomes an extremely expensive endeavor. It not only takes hard work and dedication to thrive in the major, but also the ability to afford printing and material costs.” Sometimes students are forced to make untenable choices; as another student explained: “Due to limited amounts of personal funds, I have had to choose between paying for materials or lab fees, or paying for living expenses. In the past, I have chosen to pay for groceries and rent instead.”
As dean, I am committed to doing my utmost to deploy existing resources, and generate new resources, to insure that no student is compelled to go hungry in order to succeed at CED. So, we have created an Access Fee Waiver Program for Pell Grant recipients. This program offsets a portion of facility access, use and printing fees. While this existing financial waiver program is helpful, we know it is not enough. In an effort led by Assistant Dean for Infrastructure and Information Technology Patty Mead, and our Fabrication Shop Manager Semar Prom, with an Innovation Award from the UC Berkeley Office of Equity & Inclusion, we are also opening a Materials Store. At the Materials Store, students will be able to conveniently purchase a range of course-related materials and supplies, at reasonable prices; some of the proceeds will go to enlarging our Access Fee Waiver Program.
If you would like to contribute to either of these efforts — by providing Access Fee Waivers ($500 each) or supporting the Materials Store — please contact me at Wolch@berkeley.edu.