Dean Tsu-Jae King Liu greets students at a Berkeley Engineering community event.

Dean’s note: A heart for students in engineering

October 25, 2019
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Fall 2019

The brilliance of Berkeley Engineering students attracted me to join the Berkeley faculty over 20 years ago, and it remains a source of inspiration for me today. Each of our students should be able to thrive and shine during their time here.

Ten years ago, the college set out to establish a more cohesive and comprehensive support system for our students. Student advising and co-curricular programs were brought together under one roof at the Bechtel Engineering Center, and Engineering Student Services (ESS) was born. Over the years, ESS has evolved into a vibrant center where students receive help, training and guidance to successfully navigate their college experience. This is one of the reasons why many students identified Bechtel as the “heart of engineering” in a facilities survey.

By fostering a more welcoming and supportive environment for learning and discovery, we can unlock the full potential of our students.

Recently, the college community marked the 10-year anniversary of ESS with more than 3,600 free Berkeley Engineering T-shirts for our undergraduate students and the inauguration of a new Welcome Center. Renovations to Bechtel included new flooring, paint, furniture and flat-panel displays installed at the entrance to ESS and in the Garbarini Lounge outside Sibley Auditorium. Additional renovations are planned to give students more places to study and collaborate.

The community event gave us the opportunity to highlight the important role that ESS plays in the success and well-being of our students. It offers a breadth of advising, academic support and professional development programs to help ensure that all students enrolled in our rigorous degree programs succeed. Remarkably, over 84% of Berkeley Engineering students who entered as freshmen graduate within four years; this is more than double the nationwide rate — but also shows that more can be done.

For this reason, the college sponsored a retreat last spring for the ESS staff and members of my leadership team to identify needs and opportunities for augmenting student support. As a result, a new ESS website is being developed and will be launched in early 2020 to make it easier for students to learn about and access the many resources available to support their success. The college will also fund the hiring of additional staff for ESS, including a learning specialist and psychological counselors.

I am confident that by fostering a more welcoming and supportive environment for learning and discovery, we can unlock the full potential of our students — and our collective potential as a community of scholars. This will distinguish Berkeley Engineering as the leader for empowering students to become global engineering leaders, working together toward a brighter future for the world.

Tsu-Jae King Liu signature

Tsu-Jae King Liu
Dean and Roy W. Carlson Professor of Engineering