The College of Natural Resources (CNR) has been renamed the Rausser College of Natural Resources in recognition of a landmark gift made by Dr. Gordon Rausser, Robert Gordon Sproul Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and former dean of the College.
Professor Rausser’s commitment of $50 million is the largest donation ever received by the College and the largest naming gift of any academic unit on the campus. Founded in 1868, Rausser College is the land-grant college of Berkeley, one of four in the UC system, and is a trusted scientific leader in fields spanning agricultural and resource economics, climate science and policy, metabolic biology, plant genetics, energy systems, and conservation, to name just a few. This gift will significantly deepen the capacity of our research, teaching, and public service initiatives to sustain our core excellence and financial strength.
Q: How will the gift be used?
A: Professor Rausser’s gift will establish three key endowed funds to provide ongoing and long term support in the College. The lion’s share of the gift will create an unrestricted endowment for the College to be used at the Dean’s direction working with the faculty. This is an extraordinary investment on behalf of our faculty, staff, and students, the heart of our vibrant community. Professor Rausser’s experience in leading a college known for its public character, impact, excellence, and incredible history motivated this gift of a lifetime.
The gift will also create the Gordon Rausser Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Rausser's home department for over four decades. And finally, it will create the Rausser-Zilberman Program Endowed Fund for the Master of Development Practice (MDP) Program, in honor of his long-time friendship with professor and MDP Executive Director David Zilberman and their shared belief that providing practical training in sustainable development to our next generation of leaders will help the developing economies of the world.
Professor Rausser’s philanthropy will enable innovative faculty-led research projects and collaborative enterprises across Rausser College’s five departments on activities supporting the College’s land-grant mission and academic excellence in service of California, the nation, and the world.
Q: What does this gift mean for the Rausser College of Natural Resources and for UC Berkeley?
A: This extraordinary gift will bolster the College’s endowment and provide ongoing revenue that will support the core of the College. Because it was made by a globally-renowned agricultural and natural resource economist and visionary academic leader, we believe it demonstrates our commitment to “See the bigger picture. Make a better world.”
Within the broader context of UC Berkeley’s current $6 billion fundraising campaign, this transformational gift will accelerate an ambitious capacity-building phase for the College on numerous fronts. In the 21st century, society will confront the climate crisis and the coupled challenges of sustainability, human health and well-being, and natural resource conservation. Rausser College will provide intellectual leadership to address these challenges and will conduct research and educational programs on behalf of California, the rest of the United States, and the world, which aim to impact all sectors of society including marginalized and underserved populations. The emphasis will not simply be upon isolated scientific problems, but on knowledge gaps and interdisciplinary connections necessary to solve the century’s greatest problems. The Rausser gift will help us sustain and enhance academic excellence across the full range of disciplines represented in the College of Natural Resources. Fulfilling our College’s mission, vision, and promise is only possible through the continued engagement of our loyal donors, alumni, parents and friends.
Q: What changes can we expect to see within the College?
A: The College has been renamed the Rausser College of Natural Resources. A portion of the gift will be designated to the College’s general endowment to strengthen its financial health, empowering the dean to create richer research, teaching, and community outreach opportunities for faculty and students. In essence, we will increase the College’s capacity to successfully address pressing local, national, and global environmental and health challenges. Other funds will support faculty excellence in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics through the establishment of an endowed chair, and the Rausser-Zilberman Fund will provide discretionary funding to the MDP program leadership to support students, curriculum enhancements, and field opportunities abroad.
Q: What types of issues will this gift allow the College to tackle?
A: With five highly-ranked departments, each committed in unique ways to training future generations of change makers, we will catalyze collaborations between scholars and practitioners to even better tackle some of the planet’s most complex economic, social, environmental, and health challenges.
From large landscape conservation to developing sustainable and renewable technologies that work in harmony with the environment—rather than at its expense—the College will build on its reputation as a premier “think-and-do” tank. Thanks to the continuing philanthropic engagement of our alumni and friends, we will be in an even better position to take on the tough challenges and embrace exciting opportunities of various scope and scale.
Q: Does the College still need support from donors?
The answer is a resounding: Yes. The College is reliant on giving from its vibrant and expanding donor community. Gifts of any size are truly appreciated. In fact, as the College embarks on its next iteration of growth, we will continue to need additional support now more than ever. Our ambition is heightened (not satiated or curtailed) by this powerful and timely vote of confidence in our work. We are grateful for gifts to support both current-use and endowed opportunities, especially now as Berkeley embarks on the most ambitious campaign in its history.
You can find out more about a range of giving opportunities—including Rausser College’s most pressing needs and exciting endeavors—on our college support page. Thank you for shaping our story and helping us evolve.
Q: Who should I contact if I have any questions?
A: Please visit our Dean’s Office page for contact information for the College’s leadership team. We look forward to hearing from you.