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UC-Berkeley Faculty Members Advise Obama

This story was written by Samantha Sondag, Daily Californian

Several UC-Berkeley faculty members are helping Barack Obama prepare for the presidency and may assume permanent roles in his administration.

Laura Tyson, a professor at Haas School of Business, and Robert Reich, a professor at Goldman School of Public Policy, are both members of Obama's 17-person Transition Economic Advisory Board. The board members-who will help Obama draft an agenda to ease the financial crisis-appeared fully assembled for the first time Friday at Obama's first press conference as president-elect.

Tyson, who chaired President Bill Clinton's National Economic Council and Council of Economic Advisors, is on a short list of candidates to be the next Secretary of the Treasury, according to national news sources. She did not return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, Christopher Edley Jr., dean of Boalt Hall School of Law, is on a small advisory board that will oversee the transition between administrations. Edley taught Obama at Harvard Law School and was an unofficial advisor during his campaign.

But Edley said he does not intend to return to the White House and has removed his name from consideration for positions requiring relocation.

"For professional and personal reasons, I want to stay at Berkeley," he stated in an e-mail. "I already served in the White House under Presidents Carter and Clinton, and this time would prefer lending a hand from a distance."

Edley, Tyson and Reich may not be the only campus faculty members who advise Obama.

"A number of law school scholars are being considered for those transition teams," said Susan Gluss, spokesperson for Boalt Hall.

Obama told reporters Friday he would reveal more officials in the next few weeks.

"I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize 'deliberate' as well as 'haste,'" he said.

Current and future advisers face a difficult task as the economy worsens. On the day of Obama's address, Ford Motor Company and General Motors announced new financial losses and the Department of Labor revealed that national unemployment had risen to 6.5 percent, its highest in 14 years. Ten million Americans are currently unemployed.

If the teams assembled so far are any indication, the Obama administration will call on many academics as well as experienced politicians for answers. David Bonior, a professor of labor studies at Wayne State University, and Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University, are both on the Transition Economic Advisory Board.

David Cutler and Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University and Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago are young academics who worked on the Obama campaign and are expected to fill positions in his administration.

Reich, who was Secretary of Labor under Clinton, is currently teaching "Leadership, Management, and Social Change" at the school of public policy.

Heather Archer, UC Berkeley's director of academic personnel, said that such appointments are not surprising.

"All professors are evaluated on research, teaching and service," she said. "We encourage our faculty to do service and a good chunk of that ends up in (presidential) administrations."

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