A petition to block dissolving the College of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, has had the desired effect.
On March 25, Douglas S. Clark, dean of Berkeley’s College of Chemistry, informed the college community that realignment of the college was no longer under consideration as a way to address the university’s campus-wide budget woes.
The possibility of disbanding the college became widely known on Feb. 24 when Jonathan F. (Jo) Melville, a senior undergraduate, posted a petition to Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks on the Change.org website, asking Dirks not to shutter the college and fold parts of it into the College of Letters & Science and College of Engineering.
In Clark’s letter to the community last week, he wrote, “I am certain that the outpouring of support from the CoC [College of Chemistry] community was crucial in persuading campus that the unique structure of the College of Chemistry is integral to its worldwide reputation, to the outstanding productivity of its renowned faculty, and to its strength as a fundraising and revenue-generating enterprise.”
That outpouring of support included more than 4,500 signatures on the Change.org petition; letters from the college’s five living Nobel laureate alumni and four of its National Medal of Science recipients; and e-mails, calls, and letters from numerous alumni and colleagues.
“I’m incredibly humbled by the immense support we gathered in such a short amount of time, and every day I feel privileged to work and learn here,” Melville says. “The overwhelming influx of communication from students, faculty, and alumni just goes to show the incredible support that the College of Chemistry has across the world, and the unique place it holds in the chemistry community.”