February 10, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

We are writing to update you on the progress that has been made on the Undergraduate Initiative (UGI), as well as to share next steps. As you know, the Undergraduate Initiative seeks to insure that the largest possible group of undergraduate students receives the support, guidance, and intellectual opportunities needed to thrive personally; participate in exciting research, creative projects, and the production of new knowledge; and achieve the literacy, numeracy, creativity, and investigative talent expected of every Berkeley graduate – and needed by our society.

The initial UGI Steering Committee, together with input from faculty, students and staff across the campus, helped to shape this vision and the Council of College Deans identified four initial areas of focus to achieve these ends. They are:

  1. Develop and launch Golden Bear Orientation (GBO): In a broad collaboration between academic and student affairs for the past 18 months, GBO has been designed to welcome new students to the UC Berkeley intellectual community, to lay the foundation for fostering students’ intellectual identity and to facilitate a sense of belonging for all incoming undergraduates. Rather than brief Cal Student Orientation (CalSO) sessions throughout the summer, the campus will host a week-long (August 15-22, 2017) comprehensive orientation for all 8,500+ incoming undergraduates. This new GBO program offers all students the same opportunity to participate, and to participate together.
  2. Develop a Creative Curriculum: In concert with the innovative work of the Arts + Design Initiative, the creative curriculum will embed creative engagement within existing curricular structures and ensure that all students can develop creative competencies, regardless of major. It will enable undergraduate students to design, make, create and study in workshops and fabrication labs across campus.  Proposed next steps include scaling new Creative Gateway courses, identifying and expanding Creative Connector Courses and developing an Arts and Culture Pass to allow undergraduates to learn from campus cultural events, exhibits and performances.
  3. Develop a Data Science Curriculum:  A coalition of faculty has been creating a set of broadly-accessible data science courses. The foundation and connector classes teach the use of data in a variety of undergraduate majors. This semester, additional lower and upper division courses are being offered which form the beginnings of a data science enrichment, minor and major programs that Berkeley seeks to build over the next several years.  A search is currently ongoing for the full-time position of Interim Dean of the newly created Division of Data Science.
  4. Increase access to Discovery Experiences: Work has just begun to understand and record the variety of immersive experiences undergraduates can participate in, whether through lab or fieldwork, community engagement, individual research, capstone courses or other integrating or culminating experiences. The Vice Chancellor for Research Paul Alivisatos and the Council of College Deans will be working together to identify how the campus can stimulate research and professional experience access for undergraduates and help students navigate these opportunities. Each college will be looking to its faculty to drive this conversation and to shape the types of discovery experiences that engage undergraduate creativity and passion and that are best suited the major.  

We will continue to keep you informed throughout this process, including providing you with additional opportunities for discussion and feedback. Questions or comments may be directed to Berkeley_UGI@lists.berkeley.edu.  

Best regards,


Council of College Deans (CCD)

Catherine P. Koshland, Vice Chancellor, Undergraduate Education, convener

Michael Botchan, Interim Dean of Biological Sciences

Anthony Cascardi, Dean of Arts and Humanities

Douglas Clark, Dean of the College of Chemistry

J. Keith Gilless, Dean of the College of Natural Resources

Frances Hellman, Dean of Math and Physical Sciences

Carla Hesse, Executive Dean of L&S and Dean of Social Sciences

Bob Jacobsen, Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Richard Lyons, Dean of the Haas School of Business

Robert Powell, Division Chair of the Academic Senate

S. Shankar Sastry, Dean of the College of Engineering

Jennifer Wolch, Dean of the College of Environmental Design