University Section Club

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President’s Message

Laurie Wu McClain

Hello everyone,

 

I have to admit that when I woke up on Wednesday, September 21, and saw a rain forecast for the morning, I felt somewhat depressed .I expected that few members and guests would show up for our Fall Reception at the Brazilian Room because of the anticipated rain.  As it turned out, our members and guests were not deterred by the rain forecast.  They wanted to come, and, in fact, many people arrived very early.  Miracle of miracles, we had partly cloudy weather that turned into sunshine.  

 

The Fall Reception was a fantastic success with about 150 members and guests arriving for food, chatting, sign-ups, and meeting our special guests from I-House and the YWCA. We had a team of about 35 people who brought food, helped us to set up chairs and tables, greeted our members and guests, signed members for Activity sections, and helped with clean-up.  The team included the husbands or friends of members, several of whom worked all day to ensure the success of the event.  The Board undertook much of the behind-the-scenes responsibilities—planning the layout of chairs and tables, checking lists of members and newcomers for accuracy, accounting for dues and donations made, and recruiting hostesses to greet everyone.  I could not have coordinated this team without the heavy lifting done by our marvelous Lucia Falcone who took care of everything pertaining to food. I give a special thanks to her.

 

In addition to the busy Sections publicizing their amazing array of activities and signing up members during the event, the Fall Reception will be remembered for its focus on the Club’s philanthropy.  Back in 1996 a number of forward-looking members decided to start an endowment at International House to provide scholarships to graduate students at UC Berkeley. The endowment steadily grew with the help of donations from Section Club members and excellent investments made first by the University and then I-House. Each year I-House chooses a student recipient supported by our endowment.

 

Our scholarship recipient this year, Prashant Sharma, joined us for the Fall Reception.  During a Question and Answer period, a highlight of the luncheon, he thanked us for all of our support for his education. He told us about coming from a small town in Nepal where both of his parents are public school teachers. Receiving need-based financial aid after high school, he studied for his B.A. degree at New York University which has a campus in Abu Dhabi. He is now at Berkeley working on a Masters degree in Information Management and Systems with an emphasis on Data Science.  We wish him well during his time at Cal. This is only one of many examples of the Club’s dedication to students.

If you haven’t seen our Club’s video--

"Breaking Barriers: 150 Years of Women on the Cal Campus"—our outstanding and well-received contribution to inter-campus relations in March, 2022, you can click on the highlighted title above or here-- (Events) to find out more the background to the video. I have received many kind, supportive emails from you. Thank you all. 

With best wishes to you and your families,

Laurie

 

HISTORY

 

Founded in 1927, the University Section Club, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit and a recognized support organization for the University of California, Berkeley, serves the UC Berkeley community in various ways. We offer  eighteen sections from languages to tennis, and birding to pickleball, that provide an enjoyable way for members to come together around shared interests.  Volunteer activities welcome and support students, international scholars and their families. Fundraising activities, dues and donations support philanthropy to students which include emergency grants, financial support for student groups and programs, and two endowed scholarships.

The University Section Club, Inc was a daughter-organization of the College Teas which was founded in 1907 to foster friendships among the faculty of the University of California. In 1927, a fire destroyed Hearst Hall where the Teas had been meeting. With their small insurance money, they established a Loan Fund for needy students and raising money for this Fund became their primary responsibility. By 1927, informal meetings of faculty wives were formed into The Section Club. Ten interest groups - sections were started: Badminton, Walking, Homemaking, Foreign Languages, Bridge, Drama, Music and Philanthropy (later Services Offered Students, S.O.S.). 

For over 50 years, the Teas and Section Club co-existed, but as Section Club grew the Teas dwindled. In 1984, it became an official support group of the University by offering grants and support to deserving students and student-related groups. 

Each summer the University Section Club distributes an informational flyer on the year's activities and calendar. The flyer includes an organization chart of the Club's structure of services to students and sections. It ends with an invitation form to join with the address of the Club.