Berkeley celebrates a record-breaking year in fundraising

July 22, 2022
(Editors note: the following is an email message sent to Berkeley faculty & staff by Chancellor Christ on 7/21/22.)
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Dear Campus Community,

As we close FY22, I want to thank you for coming together to support the Light the Way campaign. In the past fiscal year, we have surpassed the $1 billion mark for the second time in our fundraising history and broken the 2020 record for the amount raised in a single year. In total, 63,087 donors contributed $1,224,980,730 in gifts and pledges bringing our campaign total to $5,806,278,327. 

While the dollar amount is cause for celebration, the story that the strong numbers reveal is perhaps more important to emphasize. Gifts coming to fruition in FY22 have set in motion vital changes to our campus facilities, academic programs, and research; grown our faculty and student support; and advanced our efforts to ensure equitable access for our students to all that Berkeley has to offer. Together we are providing new opportunities for housing, enhancing the path to meaningful careers and greater equity in athletics, and infusing student-run institutions such as the Cal Band with new life. The story of giving in FY22 is one of breadth and depth, and I want to acknowledge that our success is built on commitments from all members of our community. I also want to note that the use of funds is determined by the donors — the gifts described below cannot be deployed for other uses.

 Transforming the look and feel of the campus

In FY22, donors facilitated changes to our campus grounds and programmatic offerings that will have important repercussions for generations of students and researchers to come. 

UC Berkeley’s single largest gift ever — a commitment from the Helen Diller Family Foundation — will build a new, approximately 800-bed residence hall, specifically for students who transfer to UC Berkeley from community colleges, at an estimated total cost of $300 million. A state-of-the-art, apartment-style residence hall, the Helen Diller Anchor House, will be a campus home for transfer students, who represent 21 percent of UC Berkeley’s undergraduates. The approximately 400,000 square-foot residential building will be designed for, built for and donated to Berkeley, a project similar to International House, a multicultural residence and program center for Berkeley students, that was constructed in 1930 and funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr.

We broke ground on Anchor House in February, and the building will be finished in 2024.

For graduate students pursuing degrees in vision science or optometry, the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation’s extraordinary $50 million gift — the largest to any school of optometry in the country — is a game-changer. Dr. Wertheim’s eclectic career includes serving as a clinician, researcher, inventor, and entrepreneur, educator, philanthropist, and university leader. Dr. Wertheim, who played a key role in discovering the negative effects of ultraviolet light on the eye, developed chemical tints and other technologies that advance public health by preventing cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases. The Wertheim gift is the seed of a ten-year, $100 million investment in optometry that will expand the school’s offerings and help position the profession as a central aspect of healthcare. To honor this extraordinary gift, the school was named the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science.

I am thrilled to share the announcement of the new Engineering Student Center. Launched with a $30 million challenge match grant from an anonymous donor, the new student center will expand and update the existing Bechtel Engineering Center, built more than forty years ago. Since then, the population of engineering students has grown by more than 80 percent. The new center, which will cover 35,000 square feet over two floors, will offer unobstructed views of Memorial Glade and the Campanile and bring students together as a home for clubs and organizations, Engineering Student Services, and entrepreneurship activities. The total cost of $95 million will be covered by philanthropy and with $74M raised to date, we are very close to achieving that goal.

As we honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX, it brings me great pleasure to celebrate a recent gift from the Banatao family — Tala ‘02, Rey ‘01 and ‘04, and Desi ‘96 that brought the Cal Athletics campaign for gender equity to its successful conclusion. The $8 million campaign helps level the playing field in sports by developing new facilities for women’s volleyball and softball. The Banataos’ $1 million gift will be focused on supporting the beach volleyball facility. 

On March 9th, 14,732 individual donors — a 15 percent increase — raised $20,739,038 — a 70 percent increase  — during our eighth Big Give. Notably, 2,700 of them made a gift for the first time. Our 24-hour fundraising blitz is one indicator of our growing donor base and reminds our alumni and friends that UC Berkeley belongs to us all. 

 The Berkeley story is our story

These ambitious projects will change the look and feel of the Berkeley campus, enhancing the experience of our students and the broader campus community. The generosity of our community in the past year is but the latest chapter in the Berkeley story, which reflects our ongoing struggle to make our society and world more equitable, open, and supportive to all. 

There is so much to celebrate, but we must also recognize that there remains work to be done, particularly to sustain our graduate students and deepen our efforts at equity and inclusion by providing critical resources for students from all backgrounds. In FY22, the first cohort of students supported by the African American Initiative (AAI) graduated. The AAI and other scholarship programs have received significant support and we have now reached our $400 million campaign goal for undergraduate scholarships. In the coming year, I would particularly like to see additional support for graduate fellowships and for efforts such as the Discovery Initiative — which aims to ensure that all undergraduates experience Berkeley as a meaningful, life-changing journey.

Speaking of our undergraduates, I will end with a note about the Cal Band’s efforts to refresh its stock of instruments. Cal Band has been student-led since its founding in 1891, and is funded primarily with donor support. During the past year, the band launched a crowdfunding effort to replace all 160 of their musical instruments. So far, donors have provided resources to purchase the 32 piccolos, 12 basses, 6 bass drums, and 12 cymbals required to make the Cal Band’s distinctive sound, which is absolutely essential for exciting Cal spirit and ensuring that our Golden Bears roll on. With the help of our community, I am confident that all of the instruments will soon be replaced.  

I want to thank you again for being part of the Berkeley community and for your ongoing participation in Light the Way. Working together, I believe that we will meet our $6 billion goal by engaging with and supporting the campaign’s priorities: faculty and fellowships, research for the public good, undergraduate opportunity and experience, and places of possibility — capital projects and facilities upgrades. While we live in challenging times, Berkeley remains a beacon of light that continues to shine because of you.


Carol T. Christ


This message was sent to all UC Berkeley faculty and staff.