Craigslist donates $1.6M for faculty chair at Cal

The University of California, Berkeley, today announced plans to establish the first endowed faculty chair at the Berkeley Center for New Media with a donation of $1.6 million from craigslist, one of the most popular Web sites in the world.

The donation, which will support research, symposia and lectures, will be matched with $1.5 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for a total of $3.1 million. The matching funds come from the foundation's landmark challenge grant, announced last September, that it gave to UC Berkeley to create 100 new endowed chairs. The new chairs are designed to help the public research university compete with private institutions.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said the craigslist donation recognizes the Berkeley Center for New Media as a major research center where scholars and students “explore the powerful effect of new media on culture and think rigorously about how new media will continue to change our lives and perceptions.”

“The Berkeley Center for New Media and craigslist share a fundamental respect for alternative thinking in the public interest,” said its director, UC Berkeley engineering professor Ken Goldberg. “Our mission is to critically analyze and help shape developments in new media by facilitating research with unorthodox ideas, designs, artworks and experiments.”

Support from craigslist, one of the most influential leaders in the world of new media, fits perfectly with the center's mission, said Goldberg.

“Berkeley faculty and students appreciate craigslist's record of public service and the unique role it plays in urban life and culture for the Bay Area and worldwide,” he said. “We share interests in research areas such as privacy, reputation, trust, access and new ways to encourage socially constructive actions.”

Founded in San Francisco in 1995 by Craig Newmark, craigslist began as an e-mail list of events for the San Francisco Bay Area. Jim Buckmaster became the company's CEO in 2000 and has led craigslist to become the eighth largest Internet company in the world in terms of English-language page views, and the most used classifieds service worldwide in any medium.

“We're thrilled to support UC Berkeley at a time when unprecedented wealth is being lavished upon private institutions,” said Buckmaster. “Berkeley's academic excellence and history of challenging convention mean a lot to us at craigslist, and we rely upon technological innovations from the UC Berkeley community every day. We're excited to partner with the Berkeley Center for New Media, as it is uniquely positioned to change the very way we think about new media.”

Buckmaster will be a founding member of the Berkeley Center for New Media's executive advisory board.

The Berkeley Center for New Media supports research and teaching from a diverse community of more than 100 affiliated faculty members, advisors and scholars at UC Berkeley. They work in over 30 departments, including architecture, philosophy, film studies, art history and performance studies, as well as in the College of Engineering, the schools ofinformation, journalism and law, and the Berkeley Art Museum.

The $1.5 million in matching funds from the Hewlett Foundation is part of a $113 million Hewlett grant to provide UC Berkeley with a major new source of endowment funds to attract and support world-class faculty and graduate students and to allow the campus to compete with the nation's best private schools. The Hewlett challenge grant will match dollar-for-dollar other private donations to UC Berkeley for the Hewlett chairs, and the ultimate result will be $220 million in new endowment funds for the campus.

More information about the Berkeley Center for New Media is available at http://bcnm.berkeley.edu.

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