Passing the Baton


I’m turning 68 today; 4 of my 6 Ph.D. students are graduating; and the start of the 5-year successor to the AMP and ASPIRE Labs is imminent. Thus, I’ve decided that the time is right to retire from UC Berkeley to allow a recent PhD with a fresh perspective to fill my position in the next great project.

While I’m open to interesting new challenges, starting in July my tentative plan (which sounds pretty good) is graduating my remaining students while continuing to coach interested faculty, revise textbooks, consult, travel, play soccer on Sundays, and attend the free faculty lunch on Mondays.

Reflecting upon the past 4 decades, when I joined UC Berkeley in 1976, we clearly trailed what was then called the “Big 3”: Stanford, MIT, and CMU.

Today, we don’t.

I believe we’ve leapfrogged the competition because of:
• Our practice of attracting and nurturing great young faculty;
• Our radical teamwork on research projects, which no other top program enjoys; and
• Our tradition of working in ways that are best for the department versus for our area or for ourselves.

We’ve advanced not only without sacrificing undergraduate education, we’ve actually increased both the number of students per capita and the quality of their education, thereby fulfilling the UC mission of helping Californians to achieve the American dream. That mission enabled my 2 sons, my 2 sisters, and me to earn 9 degrees from 5 UC campuses.

The extraordinary UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff clearly made my career. I thank them for 40 years of inspiration and collaboration.