Faculty Fellows Program

student athlete at graduation

Student-athlete Rachel Acker on stage during commencement.
pic by Doug Zimmerman

Faculty Fellows brings the following advantages to Varsity teams at U.C. Berkeley:

  • Institutional knowledge and history of the campus, its programs, courses, and majors relevant to any student-athlete's academic, intellectual and professional interests;
  • A bridge to potential research and professional career opportunities;
  • An ability to advocate for student athletes among faculty colleagues within academic departments on issues that may arise (athletic travel accommodations, proctoring, etc.);
  • A willingness to work with the coaches on how to enhance the student athlete experience.


The Faculty Fellows program was started by Cal's Athletic Study Center (ASC) in 2004. Following the release of the 2014 Task Force on Academics & Athletics, the program was highlighted as a positive mechanism for supporting the academic and degree progress of Berkeley’s student athletes. In 2021, the Faculty Fellows Program came under the oversight of the campus Senate Faculty Athletics Council (FACL). Management of the program remained with the Athletic Study Center. Today, every Varsity team has at least one Faculty Fellow.


Research has shown that faculty mentorship programs contribute to students’ increased sense of belonging, academic self-efficacy, higher retention and graduation rates and increased academic success (Campbell & Campbell, 1997; Holloway-Friesen, 2021; Lisberg & Woods, 2018). For student athletes in particular, and especially those first-generation student athletes of color, these programs have led to a more balanced academic and athletic identity, with increased academic aspirations (Comeaux, 2010, 2011; Cooper, 2016).

Program Objective

Create a consistent and sustainable structure for a Faculty Fellows program with the goal of fostering and expanding relationships between Intercollegiate Athletics, the ASC and faculty across campus; enhancing the student-athlete experience; and amplifying the positive stories about Berkeley’s scholar athletes amongst the faculty. Faculty fellows can be a resource for student-athletes in helping to decide their academic path and how to best maximize their Berkeley experience. They can also help student-athletes navigate building relationships with other faculty members on campus.