History & Mission

Students at Sather Gate

A Historical Perspective on Cal’s Public-Private Partnership

The public-private partnership at Cal has existed since the University of California was founded in 1868 and has undergone three distinct phases. The first fifty years was an era of private support. The “Builders of Berkeley” were private individuals who helped to create and sustain the institution. Their names are memorialized on campus: Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Jane Sather, Charles Franklin Doe. They and others Phoebe Hearstprovided money for the original buildings and supplied the university’s entire budget for three of the first ten years. On average, half the budget came from private funds during this time.

The next fifty years (1919 to 1968) were distinguished by support from the state: the state provided 95% of Cal’s budget. (The majority of Cal’s alumni graduated during this period, which has led to the general perception that Cal continues to operate almost entirely on state support.) Nevertheless, a few key alumni sensed that state support might not continue indefinitely at this level. These far-sighted individuals decided that the campus needed an external entity to advance its interests and promote its welfare. In 1948, they formed the California Alumni Foundation. In 1975, this was renamed the UC Berkeley Foundation and took on the responsibility for raising private funds.

A Foundation of Support

For more than a half century, the University of California, Berkeley Foundation (UCBF) has supported and advanced the mission of the University of California, Berkeley by encouraging private philanthropy. The Foundation is the most important volunteer body affiliated with the campus and serves as the University’s primary vehicle for enlisting fundraising volunteers from the private sector. The Foundation ensures that there is a long-term commitment to the campus fundraising program.

Private support is critical to the future of Cal as full state support is unlikely to return. Private gifts are now necessary to provide for core programs, to build new buildings, to create new programs, and to carry the legacy of Cal into the next century.

The Mission of the Board of Trustees

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees composed of professional, business, and philanthropic leaders dedicated to promoting the University’s pursuits of teaching, research, and public service.

The Board of Trustees' primary mission is to assist the University in securing gifts, trusts, and bequests to nourish programs throughout the campus. Since its formation, the Board has been an instrumental force in driving the dynamic growth in private giving to Berkeley. Through a variety of committees and task forces, the Board provides support and advice to a broad spectrum of fundraising programs and activities. It also manages the Foundation’s endowment funds and oversees the Foundation’s trusts.

The Board of Trustees serves as the primary advocacy group to the Chancellor and provides leadership for a united effort to ensure Cal’s continuing stature as one of the world’s preeminent institutions of higher learning. As such, it serves not only as the University’s fundraising arm, but also as a conduit for public opinion, an advisory council, and a steady source of assistance to Berkeley’s Chancellor and the campus as a whole.

Trustees take a leading philanthropic role by making annual contributions to Cal and by making major commitments to the University’s capital campaigns. The Foundation works closely with University Relations and the campus development programs; together, the volunteers on the Board of Trustees and the development professionals across the campus serve as leading advocates for increasing support for the University from the private sector.

The Board of Trustees: Governance and Terms of Office

With a diverse membership of elected trustees, elected executive officers, and appointed trustees, the UCBF Board of Trustees consists largely of Berkeley alumni and includes the Chancellor of UC Berkeley.

Elected trustees hold three-year terms, and the elected executive officers serve two-year terms. Individuals who have been actively devoted to the Foundation’s work are elected for three-year terms as advisory trustees.  The Board also includes up to 15 appointed trustees, who are volunteer leaders of organized fundraising programs on campus and serve one-year terms. Emeritus trustees are elected in recognition of a lifetime of unusually distinguished service to the Foundation and serve as permanent members of the UCBF Board. Vice chancellors, deans, and other campus administrators serve as ex officio trustees.

The Foundation has an Executive Committee composed of the executive officers, the Chancellor, and the president of the Foundation. The executive officers are the Board's chair, vice chair, and immediate past Board chair; and the chairs and vice chairs of the following Foundation committees: the Campaign Steering, Finance & Administration, Governance, and Programs committees. These committees conduct Foundation business and advise the campus administration on critical issues.

The Board of Trustees meets three times each year, although special meetings may be called at any time.