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Guide to the Alan Bersin papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred citation
  • Processing Information
  • Separated Material
  • Index Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Alan Bersin papers
    Dates (Inclusive): 1987-2008
    Dates (Bulk): 1998-2006
    Collection number: USDSC_2010_001
    Creator: Bersin, Alan Douglas, 1946-
    Extent: 73 boxes (70.5 linear feet)
    Repository: University of San Diego, Archives and Special Collections
    Copley Library
    5998 Alcalá Park
    San Diego, CA 92110
    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.
    Languages: 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 Content 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.


    This collection is arranged into two Record Groups:

    1. A. San Diego City Schools
    2. B. Office of the Secretary of Education
    The Office of the Secretary of Education is further arranged into two series:

    1. Series I. Administrative Records
    2. Series II. Transition
    Physical arrangement of this collection remains in original order. Records have been intellectually arranged in the above manner to enhance the findability of like records.
    Records were originally organized in individual folders, with many folders grouped into file units. Original folders have been replaced with alkaline, archival quality folders. File unit and folder titles have been retained to represent original groupings and original order.
    While the physical records retain original order, this finding aid represents intellectual arrangement in order to group like records together. Individual folder titles are not represented in this finding aid, rather file units are described and reflect the total number of folders contained within that file unit. Please contact University Archives if an individual folder listing of this collection is desired.

    Access Information

    The majority of this collection is open for research. Few files have been restricted due to confidentiality. (Box 73 contains restricted materials.)

    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 was conducted by Tessie Camina in 2010. Additional processing was conducted by Ashley Toutain in 2017.

    Separated Material

    Some publications have been removed for cataloging. Photographs have been removed for preservation purposes. Separation sheets are included where applicable.
    Details can be found with collection processing notes held in Archives.

    Index Terms

    This collection is indexed under the following headings.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bersin, Alan Douglas, 1946-
    Alvarado, Anthony
    Cuban, Larry
    Davis, Gray, 1942-
    Hess, Frederick M.
    Schwarzenegger, Arnold
    Usdan, Michael D.
    Ottinger, Ron
    Zimmerman, Frances O'Neill

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San Diego City Schools
    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
    Eduventures (Firm)
    Harvard University
    National Science Foundation (U.S.)
    San Diego Education Association
    Educational Leadership Development Academy

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San Diego (Calif.)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Blueprint for Student Success (Program)
    Charter schools
    Education--California--San Diego.
    Education, Elementary
    Education, Secondary
    English language--Study and teaching (Elementary)
    San Diego City Schools--Evaluation.
    Schools for a New Society
    September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
    Special education
    United States. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
    Academic Performance Index
    California High School Exit Exam
    California. Proposition MM (1998)
    San Diego Education Association
    San Diego Reads