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Thanks to Berkeley wall faces

New faces on Dwinelle Plaza

Fun photos of student-aid recipients on a new billboard for The Campaign for Berkeley

| 10 September 2009

A new version of the now-familiar "Thanks to Berkeley…" billboard in Dwinelle Plaza was unveiled recently, this time showcasing a lively collection of photos of Berkeley students who are benefiting from privately funded scholarships and fellowships.

The billboard, a 72-foot-long art installation, has become a signature of The Campaign for Berkeley, the effort that aims to raise $3 billion for the campus by June 30, 2013. Increasing Berkeley's endowment for undergraduate and graduate student aid is a priority of the campaign.

The new photo mural draws on black-and-white images of 420 students taken over two days in May by Christopher Irion, a San Francisco photographer whose traveling PhotoBooth project has helped the campaign highlight how Berkeley's excellence — and its unique character — helps shape people's lives.

The first campaign billboard, spotlighting students, staff, faculty, and alumni, went up on Dwinelle Plaza a year ago, marking the public launch of the fundraising campaign.

Invited to express themselves with props in their photos, the students didn't hesitate. A book of Milton, a paisley parasol, a Cal pompon, bubble gum, kids and dogs, musical instruments, stuffed animals, a Straw Hat Band hat, body art, and t-shirt messages of every persuasion set the individualist tone of the billboard. In addition, all students were asked to submit quotes about their Berkeley experience, and about 100 are posted on the billboard.

Alumni and friends of Berkeley are answering the call of the campaign, despite the grim worldwide economy. In the past fiscal year, the campaign raised $306.2 million from 56,706 donors, many of whom made multiple gifts during the year. The dollar amount makes 2008-09 Berkeley's fourth-best fundraising year ever and puts the campaign at the halfway mark.

An example of the kind of gift coming in to bolster Berkeley's resources for student aid is this summer's $500,000 challenge grant from the Hearst Foundations in California. The pledge to the College of Letters and Science will help Berkeley raise four $125,000 endowments from other donors, and the Hearst gift will match income from those funds to create scholarships for L&S undergraduates.

"Ensuring that students have access to a Berkeley education is a top priority, for our college and all across campus," says Janet Broughton, acting executive dean of L&S. "The Hearst challenge is exactly the kind of support we need to build our ability to help talented students. This kind of gift is at the heart of The Campaign for Berkeley."

Cruz Grimaldo, assistant director of the scholarships office in Financial Aid, agrees. "Private support for student aid is especially important in these bleak economic times," she says. "With the cost of education outstripping scholarship resources, campaign gifts like the one from the Hearst Foundations can help Berkeley preserve access for the best students, regardless of family means."

Hearst family philanthropy has supported the Berkeley campus for decades, beginning in the 1890s with Phoebe Apperson Hearst's remarkable commitment to developing the young university and including her significant bequest in the 1920s for student scholarships. The current campaign is engaging longtime supporters like the Hearst Foundations, as well as new generations of donors.

For more on the campaign, and a complete look at its PhotoBooth images, visit