Berkeley Gets Major Gift to Promote Diversity

The University of California at Berkeley is prohibited by state law from considering race in its admissions decisions. Since the ban on race-sensitive admissions went into effect more than a decade ago, black and other minority enrollments have plummeted. Blacks are now just 3 percent of the student body at Berkeley, about one half the level that prevailed before race-sensitive admissions were abolished.

Now the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund has made a $16 million donation to the university which is intended to make the university more attractive to minority applicants. The gift will endow five professorships dedicated to minority issues. In addition, 30 new or revised courses emphasizing community service will be funded. The gift will also provide funds for research grants for students and faculty of all races who plan projects in diversity-related fields. Some of the money will be set aside for scholarships for students of all races who transfer to Berkeley from two-year community colleges in California. These students are disproportionately from low-income and minority communities.

The Haas Fund was established by the family that operated the Levi Strauss Company. The fund, established in 1953, has awarded more than $350 million in grants.