46 UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ on creating institutional change from within
There are many apt metaphors for Carol Christ’s achievements. Most of them have to do with breaking things like glass ceilings or barriers or new ground in Victorian literary scholarship. But none of those do justice to the sheer scope of the professional arc Carol has traversed en route to her current role as the first female Chancellor of UC Berkeley.
Carol has spent the better part of her five decades entering academic spaces and roles previously reserved for men. But she has less interest in reflecting on her own pioneering achievements than in her passion for participating in the collective march toward institutional progress. In fact, from the moment she began ascending through the leadership ranks at Berkeley, and then as President of Smith College, she’s been a vector for positive change through her first-rate mind, her warmth, humanity and passion for the transformative power of education.
She certainly had an effect on Lorne. The two met at UC Berkeley when he was a newly-minted PhD teaching in the Dramatic Art department and she was Dean of the College of Letters and Science. Though Carol might not have known it at the time, Lorne was inspired by her and viewed her as a mentor. He greatly admired her forthright and compassionate approach to leadership and marveled at how she would give equal voice to the many varied factions comprising California’s largest and most prestigious public research institution.
Carol is the rare university administrator who sees her work as an artform. Lorne relished the opportunity to reconnect with her about her trailblazing journey to the Chancellorship of UC Berkeley, her literary approach to leadership and her perspective on the road ahead for all of higher education.
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