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 Stories for April 22, 1998

Inauguration Festivities Begin
Ceremony Is Sold Out as Much of the University Community Gathers to Invest Berdahl as Berkeley’s Eighth Chancellor

by Gretchen Kell, Public Affairs
posted Apr. 22, 1998

On April 24, the most festive day in seven years at Berkeley, Robert M. Berdahl will be inaugurated in a late morning ceremony as the eighth chancellor of the campus.

The inauguration also celebrates the 130th anniversary of the founding of the University of California.

Although Berdahl, 61, took office last July, it is traditional for Berkeley chancellors to be inaugurated around the time of the celebration of Charter Day, the university’s anniversary. Inauguration also is a chance for the new chancellor, who has the 1997-98 school year nearly behind him, to formally present for the first time his vision for the campus.

Tickets to the inauguration ceremony and to events surrounding it were so sought after that they already were gone last week. Tents have been ordered to accommodate the overflow crowds, and a forum on higher education was moved to a larger space because the response was double that expected.

“Chancellor Berdahl is being welcomed with open arms. So many people want to be here to honor him at his inauguration,” said Colleen Rovetti, Berkeley director of development programs and special events.

Berdahl’s speech is expected to include a call for the protection and promotion of Berkeley’s research environment, including renewed support for the University Library; for more speedy and efficient campus policies and processes; for more access to faculty by freshmen; for renewing and rebuilding K-12 education in California; and for an atmosphere on campus that inspires students to community service.

The last Berkeley inauguration was in 1991, for Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien, whose special day had an international flavor. Both Berdahl and his wife, Margaret “Peg” Berdahl, helped plan the festivities and wanted them to showcase the campus and to exude warmth and personableness.

“The chancellor didn’t want just a ceremony with a lot of people in robes sitting looking at the audience,” said Rovetti, “but a warm presentation in which music would be played, images of the campus would be displayed on a screen on stage and there would be talk about the campus as a whole, not just talk about him.”

Berdahl came to Berkeley last summer from the University of Texas at Austin, where he had been president since 1993. The chancellor’s roots are Midwestern – he was born in South Dakota, attended college in the Midwest and also spent some of his professional years there.

Before Texas, he served as vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was a member of the University of Oregon’s history faculty and was that campus’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

On April 23, pre-inaugural events include a noon concert in honor of the Berdahls, an ice cream social for students and a 4:30-6 p.m. faculty and staff reception in the Faculty Club.

On April 24, after the ceremony, there will be a lunch with more than 500 guests including California legislators, local mayors, Nobel laureates, campus deans and Academic Senate and ASUC leaders.

See related inauguration story.

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