Reflecting on the Past

A Journey of Self-Reflection

What pops into your mind when I say the University of California at Berkley?  Maybe images of hippies in  the late 1960’s wearing bell bottoms and strumming their guitars on the lawn between classes.  Or maybe you are a reader of the Student Life Guru Blog that has actually been UC Berkley and know that stereotype is long extinct. 

Take a look at this modern version of UC Berkley: (access date 3/29/2011.)  

Now gaze at this historical image of UC Berkley from 1907:  (access date 3/29/2011.)

The physical differences are both stunning and obvious.  Just like UC Berkley, in one hundred years a lot has changed on campuses all over the country.  Has the essence or mission of colleges and universities changed drastically in the last century?  Examine these photos again in terms of your own role at your college or university.

  • In my current position, what would my role to students be in 1911?
  • Do you think your current job would be vastly different in the past then it is now and how?
  • What sorts of interactions would you have with students in the early 1900’s?
  • How do you think students would perceive you one hundred years ago as their leader/mentor?
  • Do you think your mission towards students is different then your current mission? How? Why?

Maybe after some reflection you feel glad that you can happily tweet your staff to invite them to an impromptu cup of coffee for all their hard work or maybe like a colleague of yours in the distant past you put pen-to-paper and draft a glowing letter of thanks for your exceptional staffer. 

Has the mission, developing students and leaders, changed dramatically in one hundred years or is student development the same but the methods different?


The 1907 image of the University of California at Berkley, along with 238 breathtaking panoramic views of colleges in the early 1900’s, are available in the Digital Collections of the Library of Congress (access date 3/29/2011.)  You just might be able to find an image of your school there! (Panoramic Photographs access date 3/29/2011.) You must actually click on college campuses embedded in the paragraph.

Current photos of UC Berkley are available on their website: (access date 3/29/2011.)

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