Monday, October 12, 2009

Part of our DNA

UCB Professor Emeritus Oliver Williamson just won a Nobel prize in economics. Chancellor Birgeneau's email to the campus community on the topic ended thus:
Earlier this morning, at a press conference, Professor Williamson was asked what this prize meant for Berkeley, given the difficult budgetary challenges that we are facing. Commenting on Berkeley's commitment to excellence across the length and breadth of the campus and its palpable energy for creating a richly collaborative intellectual environment, Professor Williamson replied that our campus is incredibly resilient, that it has faced many challenges in the last 50 years, and that with all the good will and resources on our campus, he was confident that we would survive this crisis. He emphasized that it was the duty of all of us to work together and of our legislature in Sacramento to support the university and not to squander this precious resource. In a tribute to his colleagues and to the many graduate students whom he has taught and mentored, Professor Williamson modestly indicated that "some wonderful people are coming along and there are more prospects for Nobels ahead."

I thank Professor Williamson for his insightful remarks and for reminding us not to become too discouraged by short-term challenges. Today's Nobel Prize is clear evidence that Berkeley's excellence is recognized around the world. It is a part of our DNA that will not be changed and will be preserved for future generations.

Part of our DNA?

It's a metaphor, of course, but a metaphor for what? Our material constitution?

We've cut both teaching and hiring, so I'm going to guess that's not it.

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