Last night’s superb Yo-Yo Ma concert at the historic Greek Theatre was dedicated to the memory of Earl F. “Budd” Cheit, the Founding Chair of Cal Performances’ Board of Trustees.
Earl F. Cheit (August 5, 1926–August 2, 2014), an unabashed advocate for the essential importance of the performing arts, was former Executive Vice Chancellor of UC Berkeley, Dean and Professor Emeritus at the Haas School of Business, and Founding Chair of Cal Performances’ Board of Trustees.
Dean Cheit, or “Budd,” as he was known to friends and colleagues, joined the business school in 1957 and stayed until retiring in 1991. While there, he served as dean twice (1976–1982, 1990–1991) and presided over the school’s growth and modernization. He was a pioneer in the study and teaching of the impact of business on society.
Budd held key roles at UC Berkeley, including as Executive Vice Chancellor (1965–1969), Athletic Director (1993–1994), and Trustee of the University of California Berkeley Foundation. He also served as Vice President of Financial and Business Management for the University of California system in 1981–1982.
Soon after his faculty appointment in 1957, Budd, a man of wide interests, added the performing arts to his numerous activities, first as a performer, then as sponsor, and for almost four decades as volunteer. He even played cornet in the Faculty Dixieland Band.
Budd Cheit’s long association with Cal Performances began prior to the opening of Zellerbach Hall in 1968. During its construction, he created and chaired the Zellerbach Hall Policy Board, which developed a budget for the new facility and oversaw its use. In 1996, he was named Founding Chair of Cal Performances’ first Board of Trustees, and he continued to serve on the Board for the rest of his life. In 2010, Budd received Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts for his steadfast advocacy for and support of the performing arts, and his transformative impact on Cal Performances.
Matías Tarnopolsky, Cal Performances’ Executive and Artistic Director, says that: “Budd had an incredible capacity to bring together the visionary and the practical, with his unabashed advocacy for quality, and for the essential importance of the performing arts. His voice at Cal Performances’ board and committee meetings would often be the last heard, and importantly so—summing up the issues in an artistic, historical, and economic context which simply made sense, and showed us all a clear path to the future. This clarity of thought and ambitious vision, when combined with his enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment of the performances that he and June attended—they rarely missed any—was a powerful combination.
“I will never forget his delight at sitting on stage with the Takács Quartet as they serenaded him on the occasion of his receiving the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in 2010. Above all, Budd’s infinitely warm and compassionate personality is an example to us all: He always would put you at ease and have time to talk and reflect—a rare and essential gift. Budd was a dear friend and wonderful mentor, and we miss him deeply.”
More information about Budd Cheit’s life and work may be found at the Berkeley NewsCenter.