Fall 2008 Letter

September 29, 2008

Dear Members of the Boalt Community:

I’m writing this under the influence of that heady mixture of exhilaration and sense of purpose that always pervades the campus as the fall semester begins. I suppose I’ll know it’s time to leave academia when I no longer anticipate the beginning of the school year with the excitement of a 1L. That’s difficult to imagine, and doubly so as I find myself—with you—at the beginning of an era in which Boalt will redefine what it means to be among the handful of America’s leading law schools.

As if the campus weren’t crackling with enough activity, the university has launched its Campaign for Berkeley this month—and we’re excited to be part of it. Much of our future success will flow from the dynamic intellectual partnerships we are forging throughout this great university. This mutually rewarding cross-pollination of ideas immeasurably enriches Boalt and the campus at large—and it is fitting that gifts made to our own Campaign for Boalt Hall will also count toward the university’s campaign goal.

Boalt’s campaign is such a critical component of our overall strategy that we decided to launch it early—in January 2005—both to get a head start and to strengthen our fundraising sinew for the intense effort we’ll be making in the critical period ahead. I’m pleased to say that we are truly in peak condition: Last fiscal year’s total giving outpaced the previous year’s by almost 50 percent and put us on track to cross the halfway point of our $125-million goal later this fall.

As your dean, it’s my happy duty to relay such encouraging news. But it’s also my sober responsibility to point out that while our success is several multiples above our last campaign total, getting halfway to our present goal is not close—and close isn’t close enough. Our $125-million goal is a carefully considered, planning-based assessment of what we need in order to secure the greatness we want and expect for Boalt. It’s the amount we must raise in order to thrive in spite of the continued decline in public funding for higher education and the soaring costs associated with being a top-flight professional school. (Those of you in California hear almost daily reports on the state’s poor financial health, and our alumni support is proving invaluable as we keep moving forward in the face of fiscal storms.)

Reaching our goal means that we can continue doing what a great law school should do: offer one of the nation’s most innovative and generous financial aid programs, attract and retain premier faculty despite fierce competition from other schools, and play a leadership role in research, analysis, and problem-solving. We’ll be offering you regular updates on campaign successes, and you can learn more in the Giving section of our redesigned Web site at http://www.law.berkeley.edu/120.htm.

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Physical transformation: There is so much good news, but in this case, I do know where to start: the construction of the South Addition and the renovations of our old building. With one level above ground and two levels below, our beautiful new building will provide 50,000 square feet of much-needed space. Most of the library will be moved underground, and students and faculty will enjoy another state-of-the-art, large classroom, plus a large new lounge and café. The South Addition is the centerpiece of our Master Plan, which is a phased approach for our expansion. The plan includes both the new building and renovation of existing space; in the not too-distant future we’ll convert the current library stacks into space for clinical education, seminar rooms, and more. The South Addition is an elegant piece of the overall strategy to ease our growing pains and accommodate current trends in legal education and student life.

I encourage you to go to http://www.law.berkeley.edu/building/designPlans.html to view the design plans and some of the architects’ renderings. A rebuilt and landscaped entryway will create a green transition from our complex downhill onto the plaza fronting Bancroft Way. Atop the one-story South Addition, a roof-deck garden and study area will be connected by bridges to the library’s main reading room and to the Steinhart Courtyard. Below ground, the South Addition will provide an inviting environment with large skylights and open stairways.

This is not, by the way, an expansion of the Boalt maze: The plans provide for integrating our sprawl with a system of corridors and elevators to guarantee swift passage and to raise the odds that 1Ls and new faculty members won’t get lost for days at a time. You can learn more about the renovations, recent and planned, by visiting the Master Plan’s homepage, http://www.law.berkeley.edu/building/masterPlan.html.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for the South Addition in October, with the building ready for occupation by summer 2011. Those who want to support the project can give to Boalt’s general campaign fund. And in the future, we will be offering naming opportunities in recognition of significant gifts to the building.

Incoming students: The talent, energy, and credentials of our first-year class are dazzling yet again. We had nearly 7,400 applicants this year, and admitted 11 percent. They arrived with stupendous academic credentials, matching last year’s incoming class for our highest median LSAT score in the last 10 years. Our 1Ls hold citizenship in 13 different countries, 53 percent are women, and 34 percent are people of color. They attended 104 undergraduate institutions and 17 percent hold an M.A. or Ph.D. degree. The class includes a dragon boat helmsman, a professional juggler, a pharmacist, an elephant handler, congressional staffers, software engineers, artists, and a biomedical researcher who holds 51 issued and published patent applications. We also enrolled 39 second-year transfer students, slightly more than usual, because we repeatedly see these enthusiastic newcomers disproportionately represented atop Boalt’s graduating classes and student organizations.

New faculty: This year, Boalt is proud to welcome yet another group of outstanding legal scholars to our rapidly expanding faculty ranks: Mark Gergen, a lateral hire and prominent authority on tax, torts, and contracts from the University of Texas; Oona Hathaway, a distinguished lateral hire from Yale in international law; Suzanne Scotchmer, a noted economist and lateral hire from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy; and our own Michelle Anderson ’04, who specializes in social justice issues. And we are enormously honored to welcome incoming University of California President Mark Yudof, who has also joined Boalt as a professor of law. Much to my amazement, with all of the challenges he faces Mark is eager to start teaching, possibly as early as 2009.

Summer LL.M. program: We recently launched an accelerated summer LL.M. program for international students. Starting in 2009, the program will allow participants to earn an LL.M. degree by attending classes over two consecutive summers—ideal for those already employed and able to take shorter leaves from their careers and homes. This gives Boalt another way to be a powerful magnet for young lawyers and judges around the globe. We currently have 96 LL.M. students from 38 countries, plus 10 new doctoral students from eight countries for our world-leading multidisciplinary Ph.D. program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy.

A new center: I’m proud to announce the latest addition to our portfolio of problem-solving think tanks: the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security (CHEFS), which we established to help Boalt tackle the growing insecurity faced by American families. Berkeley CHEFS will focus on promoting universal health coverage, identifying economic risks faced by working families, developing better protections for workers on leave from their jobs, supporting flexible workplaces, and ensuring the security of those in their retirement years. In each area, it will undertake collaborative ventures to produce research and integrated policy prescriptions best suited to the changing demographics of American workers and the changing face of the American family. Most of the almost 20 faculty members already affiliated with Berkeley CHEFS are from Boalt; others are from elsewhere on the Berkeley campus and the medical campus at UC San Francisco.

I’m elated with how far we’ve come over the past four years and supremely confident about our future. We have entered a vibrant new era, and I look forward to your continued interest in and financial support for our great enterprise.

Sincerely,
Christopher Edley, Jr.
The Honorable William H. Orrick Jr., Distinguished Chair and Dean