UC Regents’ vote creates UC Berkeley’s first college in 50 years

Photo of Jennifer in a brown and cream-colored floral top and dark jacket with her arm around Carol, who's wearing a black top and blue jacket. Both are smiling.

Jennifer Chayes, left, associate provost and dean of UC Berkeley’s new College of Computing, Data Science, and Society, with Chancellor Carol Christ. UCLA photo by Reed Hutchinson.

On May 18, 2023, the UC Board of Regents voted to establish UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), the campus’s first new college in more than 50 years.

The college will develop, implement, and share high-quality, ethics-oriented, and accessible curricula, educating a diverse student body in data science, computing, and statistics. It will also create new fields, applications, and solutions to societal problems through groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research that capitalizes on Berkeley’s excellence across campus.

“We are thrilled to announce a new college at Berkeley that connects our excellent research and education in computing, data science and statistics with the many data-intensive disciplines across our campus,” said Chancellor Carol T. Christ. “Infusing the power of data science across multiple disciplines, from basic and applied sciences to the arts and humanities, will help us to fully realize its potential to benefit society, help address our world’s most intractable problems, and achieve our most visionary goals. At Berkeley, we have the opportunity and responsibility to educate data science students from diverse backgrounds to become the ethical leaders we need in private industry, the public service sector, and education.”

The vote culminates a three-year process by Berkeley and the UC system to transform the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society into a college. Now, the college can more effectively form new programs and partnerships, support instruction and research and foster identity and community among faculty, students and alumni.

Photo of three women in their graduation caps and gowns.

Graduates celebrate at the 2022 data science commencement. Photo by KLC fotos.

It’s been since the late 1960s that Berkeley added a college to the campus. The journalism school was added in 1968. The public policy school was established in 1969. The CDSS approval comes as artificial intelligence and other technologies are changing how we teach, learn, connect, and understand our world. The Regents’ vote affirms Berkeley’s track record and value as a leader in using scientific and human-centered disciplines to understand and act in this moment of change.

“Artificial intelligence, computing, and data science are lenses through which we now experience the world,” said CDSS Associate Provost and Dean Jennifer Chayes. “This college provides Berkeley with opportunities to innovate and incubate new fields of inquiry at the intersection of computing and data science with other data-intensive fields. These interdisciplinary areas are often the most active areas of research, leading to some of the most exciting breakthroughs.”

The college includes the Data Science Undergraduate Studies program, the Department of Statistics, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, the Center for Computational Biology. and the Bakar Institute of Digital Materials for the Planet.

It shares the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences with the College of Engineering, the Social Science Data Lab (D-Lab) with the Social Sciences division, and the Computational Precision Health program with UC San Francisco (UCSF).

Built on a foundation of excellence

As a division, CDSS had already been working with campus partners to meet skyrocketing demand from Berkeley students for computing and data science training and from employers in need of employees with these skills. The data science and computer science majors are among the five most popular majors at Berkeley. Many students pursuing other majors also take courses in data science and computer science.

As a top university sending students to nearby Silicon Valley as the next generation of technology leaders, Berkeley has made sure its data and computer science curriculum is interdisciplinary, high quality, and society-centered. Its students take courses on how to consider the human context and ethics of their work. Berkeley programs in computer science, data science, and statistics are top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

CDSS has prioritized inclusivity and accessibility for all students. For example, it has shared its data science curriculum with California community colleges to make this lucrative field more accessible to students from non-traditional backgrounds. It has also partnered with institutions like Tuskegee University to develop programs that build strong data and social science foundations and connections. And it has built initiatives to support and accelerate the academic growth of students from all backgrounds.

This pattern of excellence extends across Berkeley, making the college well-situated to partner with pioneers in data-intensive disciplines to launch groundbreaking interdisciplinary initiatives and fields. Computing, Data Science, and Society has created an institute to use machine learning to develop cost-efficient, easily deployable, ultra-porous materials to help combat climate change. It’s established the field of computational precision health to improve the quality and equity of health care and has developed a research center to help tackle environmental problems.

Read the full story on UC Berkeley’s NewsCenter.

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