Message to our Community from Rausser College

March 26, 2020

Today Dean Ackerly sent the following message about the COVID-19 situation to alumni, parents, and friends of the College, which addresses how our community has pulled together and responded. The message also includes a link to a new web page compiling short videos from faculty, for the enjoyment of our entire community and to share with newly admitted students who are making the decision on whether to come to Cal next year.


Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends,

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives in ways unimaginable just a few weeks ago. I expect most of you have received messages from Cal, and heard about the rapid transition to remote work and instruction. There is an extraordinary spirit of commitment and collaboration to keep our community safe and do our part to flatten the curve. For many, this has created challenges and anxiety, whether it's concern for family members, supporting students with remote learning, or missing the day to day social interactions with colleagues and friends.

In this moment of "business-as-unusual," I want to lend my voice to the messages of support and solidarity that you've been receiving from other members and leaders of your campus community. Please know, we are with you.

Moments of crisis are also a good time to reflect on our core values. Seeing the bigger picture is a shared principle and motivator for all we do at the College. Together we are working to transform this difficult situation and find opportunities to innovate and support each other until we are back on campus together.

I wanted to give you some key updates on the College and the campus:

  • We have transitioned to remote instruction with great success, thanks to the hard work of instructors and students alike. We are all learning new ways to communicate in this "virtual" world. Zoom has been an incredible platform and asset for us, and creates opportunities to bring together some groups who would not normally gather for in-person meetings.
  • Research activities are largely curtailed, on campus and in the field, with the exception of COVID-19 research, essential projects, and critical services such as maintaining living material in the greenhouses. While we hope the impacts on research programs can be minimized, we also know that similar steps are being shared by colleagues all over the country.
  • All campus events have been cancelled at least through the middle of May. At some point, we will begin to transition back to campus, but right now we don't know when we will be back to normal operations. 
  • I'm quite sad to report that all commencement ceremonies have been canceled for spring 2020. The main campus ceremony WILL be rescheduled (follow updates here), and all academic units are weighing options to hold events in conjunction with the campus-wide event. Stay tuned for updates.
  • We are thinking about offering one or more of our public lectures virtually, via Zoom - watch your inbox for invitations!
  • Faculty with expertise in public health, epidemiology, infectious disease, virology, policy, economics, and law are all on the front lines. We are very proud of the research community that contributes so much to California and the nation especially at a time of national crisis. For an in-depth look at the biology of coronaviruses, you can listen to a lecture given yesterday by PMB's Britt Glaunsinger.
  • Yesterday, campus hosted a live webcast focused on COVID-19 and the campus' response to the pandemic, and a recording can be viewed here. For the latest updates on the evolving COVID-19 policies and resources for the entire UC Berkeley community, visit

For many of us nature has always offered a refuge, a place to relax, think, spend time with family and friends, exercise, and play. Everything human beings have needed to thrive was provided by the natural world around us: food, water, medicine, materials for shelter, and even the natural cycles of climate and nutrients. As I've been reflecting over the last two weeks, I've come to appreciate these many gifts that we may take for granted in everyday life. I've started my own backyard bird list, spending a little more time appreciating what is literally at my doorstep.

While we're all spending more time at home, I wanted to share something well suited to social distancing. My team has put together a web page featuring recent talks and presentations from Rausser College faculty on topics near and dear to our hearts. These could be a nice distraction at this moment and there is a lot to learn from these videos. I hope you enjoy them. They can be found here

I want to express my deep appreciation to all faculty, staff, and students in the College for pulling together to face this situation, and all of you for your support and engagement. We look forward to opportunities to see you again in person in the not too distant future. We always appreciate your feedback; contact us at

With warm regards and wishes for health,

David Ackerly
Dean, Rausser College of Natural Resources