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Contact: Kathleen Maclay
(510) 643-5651


A press conference to release a first-of-its-kind report funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the University of California, Berkeley that assesses the potential economic losses to the state, region and local community if teaching and research at the Berkeley campus is interrupted by an earthquake.

The study, titled "The Economic Benefits of a Disaster Resistant University," found that in the most severe circumstance - an earthquake that closes the campus for a year - the economic impact to three Bay Area counties could include the loss of 8,900 jobs and $861 million in sales.

WHEN: 10 a.m. Monday, May 1, 2000.  
WHERE: The steps of Stanley Hall in the northeast corner of the campus.  
WHO: Speakers at the press conference will include:
* Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl
* Mary C. Comerio, UC Berkeley professor of architecture and principal investigator of the study. * John M. Quigley, UC Berkeley professor of economics and the study's co-principal investigator.
* Representatives of Bayer Corporation and FEMA.


Recognizing that natural disasters of all kinds - earthquakes, floods, fires and hurricanes - face universities across the county, FEMA saw the need for universities to initiate efforts to safeguard their research capacity (federal agencies alone fund $15 billion annually in university research) as well as the human capital associated with the academic environment.

UC Berkeley became a partner in this Disaster Resistant Universities Initiative following the establishment of its SAFER seismic rehabilitation program in 1997. The SAFER program is a 20-year, $1 billion program to improve the life safety of buildings across campus. This latest study shows that while protecting life safety is paramount, major research universities also must prepare their campuses so that they can sustain teaching and research operations immediately following a natural disaster.

* The news conference will be held near the Hayward Fault and across from the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, the most historically significant building on the campus. It is undergoing a full-scale seismic strengthening including the use of state-of-the art base isolation stabilizers, which are some two stories high.

* Professor Comerio will lead a brief tour to show key buildings on campus following the news conference.

* Video b-roll showing classes, labs, the computer center and other locations often inaccessible to the media will be available.


NOTE: Media parking is limited. Call (510) 642-3734 by Friday, April 28, to reserve a space.


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