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Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents Note
  • Restrictions
  • Copyright Statement
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information

  • Contributing Institution: University of San Diego Special Collections
    Title: Alan Bersin papers
    Creator: Bersin , Alan Douglas, 1946-
    Identifier/Call Number: USDSC.004
    Physical Description: 76.5 Linear Feet 79 boxes (73 record cartons, 5 half doc letter sized boxes, and 1 flat bot)
    Date (inclusive): 1987-2008
    Date (bulk): 1998-2006
    Abstract: The Alan Bersin papers document Alan Bersin's tenure as the Superintendent of San Diego City Schools and the Secretary of Education for the State of California.
    Language of Material: English .

    Biographical Note

    Alan D. Bersin was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 15, 1946. He graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in Government in 1968 and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa National Honors Society. He played on the Harvard Crimson football team and in 1995 was inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. From 1968 to 1971, Bersin attended Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar where he met future President Bill Clinton. In 1974, he earned a J.D. from Yale Law School.
    After graduating from Yale, Bersin served as special counsel to the Los Angeles Police Commission. He then joined the prestigious Los Angeles law firm Munger, Tolles and Olson in 1975 where he specialized in RICO, securities, insurance and commercial litigation. Later, he became a senior partner and is credited for his role in developing Munger, Tolles and Olson's paralegal program and for chairing the committee which oversaw the firm's pro bono legal services program.
    Bersin taught law briefly at the University of San Diego before he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California by President Clinton in 1993. He was awarded a degree of Doctor of Laws (Honorary) by the University of San Diego in 1994, and then again by California Western School of Law in 1996. From 1995 to 1998, he served as Special Representative for the Southwest Border and oversaw law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. In this capacity, Bersin implemented "Operation Gatekeeper" which fortified the border near San Diego, shifting the traffic of illegal immigrants to the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.
    Between 1998 and 2005, Bersin served as Superintendent of Public Education for San Diego City Schools, the eighth largest urban school district in the United States. While superintendent, he initiated a major reorganization of the school district which included the controversial "Blueprint for Student Success" and the creation of the Institute for Learning. Bersin also served between 2000 and 2003 as a member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and chaired the Commission for a two-year term.
    In 2005, Bersin accepted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointment to become California's Secretary of Education. He held this post until 2006, when he was appointed Board Chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
    In April, 2009, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the appointment of Bersin as Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs. Later in March 2010, he was selected by President Barack Obama to serve as Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    Scope and Contents Note

    The Alan Bersin papers consist of records collected by Bersin during his tenure as the Superintendent of San Diego City Schools and the Secretary of Education for the State of California. The vast majority of the records are in the form of correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, and newspaper articles. These records delve into the workings of Bersin's office, planning behind such programs as the Blueprint for Student Success, the Institute for Learning, Special Education, and Charter Schools. Correspondence, news articles, and court cases document reaction to those programs from the public, labor unions, and the San Diego Board of Education. Records also include meeting minutes and meeting preparatory material for the Board of Education as well as correspondence between Bersin and Board members. Also included are grant proposals and grant reports for a variety of Foundations, as well as legislative records to assist funding San Diego City Schools.
    The Alan Bersin papers also consist of California-wide education records collected during his tenure as Secretary of Education. Records cover topics such as standards, testing, curriculum, facilities, funding, charter schools and implementation of No Child Left Behind. Transition materials related to Bersin's time as Superintendent of San Diego City Schools, as well as letters from the public regarding Bersin's successes and failures, are also included.


    The majority of this collection is open for research. Few files have been restricted due to confidentiality. Box 79 contains restricted materials.

    Copyright Statement

    The Board of Trustees records are the physical property of the University of San Diego, Archives and Special Collections. Copyright, except in cases where material has passed into the public domain, belongs to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

    Preferred Citation

    [Folder Title], Box # Folder #, Alan Bersin papers, Copley Library, University of San Diego, Archives and Special Collections.

    Processing Information

    Initial processing of this collection, accession USDSC 2010-001, was conducted by Tessie Camina in 2010. Additional processing was conducted by Ashley Toutain in 2017. Additional processing conducted by Gabrielle Wood in 2024.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Alvarado, Anthony
    Cuban, Larry
    Davis, Gray, 1942-
    Hess, Frederick M.
    Ottinger, Ron
    Schwarzenegger, Arnold
    Usdan, Michael D.
    Zimmerman, Frances O'Neill
    Advancement Via Individual Determination (Program)
    Annie E. Casey Foundation
    Broad Foundations
    California. Commission on Teacher Credentialing
    California. Department of Education
    Carnegie Corporation of New York
    Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
    Educational Leadership Development Academy
    Eduventures (Firm)
    Harvard University Alumni and alumnae
    National Science Foundation (U.S.)
    San Diego City Schools
    San Diego Education Association
    San Diego (Calif.)
    Academic Performance Index
    Blueprint for Student Success (Program)
    California High School Exit Exam
    California. Proposition MM (1998)
    Charter schools
    Education, Elementary
    Education, Secondary
    Education--California--San Diego.
    English language Study and teaching (Elementary)
    San Diego City Schools. Evaluation Services Department
    San Diego Educational Association
    San Diego Reads
    Schools for a New Society
    September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
    Special education
    United States. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
    Bersin , Alan Douglas, 1946-