Memorial Event on Campus Celebrates the Life of CEE Professor Karl Pister


By Karen Holtermann


Some 250 friends and colleagues gathered on September 17 to remember CEE professor Karl S. Pister, whose 70-year career at the University of California included service as Dean of the College of Engineering at Berkeley, chancellor at UC Santa Cruz, and UC’s first vice president for educational outreach.

Professor Pister died on May 14, 2022, at the age of 96. A recording of the memorial event, as well as a slide show celebrating his life, is now available online.

Speakers at the event at UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom included UC president Michael V. Drake, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Dean Tsu-Jae King Liu of Berkeley Engineering, and other friends and members of the Pister family.

“Today, I can see Karl’s devotion to the university — his vision and his guiding hand — all across our campus,” said Chancellor Christ. “What a giant he was in the field of engineering and in higher education. I prized his friendship, and I learned so much from him. He was a true model and mentor to me and, I know, to many others.”

Dean Liu added, “With so many achievements, Karl’s impact was more than what he did — it was how he did it. Integrity, intellect, inclusion, and a passion for ensuring opportunity for young people and social justice for all — this is the Karl Pister we celebrate today."

More about Karl Pister is online, and memorial gifts may be made to the Karl S. and Rita Olsen Pister Graduate Fellowship Fund ( If you would like to share a memory or photo, visit the Celebrate Karl Pister web page.