The On the Same Page program is UC Berkeley’s way of welcoming our new students into the intellectual community. We do this by choosing a book, theme, or other work of art to provide the focus of a range of events, courses, and activities that bring our new students into contact with each other and our faculty. We strive to choose a theme or work of art that will appeal to faculty and students from across the disciplines. In this way we ensure that every new student has something in common with every other new student and every faculty member, from their very first day on campus.

Jim LeBrecht talks to four students
Filmmaker Jim LeBrecht talks to the winners of a student essay contest at a reception celebrating Crip Camp in Durant Hall. Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small (2023)

Our Selection Process

Our process to select the featured work for On the Same Page begins in January for the following year. A selection committee of faculty, staff, and librarians reads widely in search of books or other works that will be a good fit for the program. At the end of spring, each committee member names two works to the longlist. Over the summer, the committee reads and reviews the entire longlist. At the end of summer, the committee meets to narrow down the longlist to three works, which become our shortlist. Over the fall term, volunteer undergraduate students review the shortlist and submit their feedback. The L&S deans also review the shortlist. In December, the L&S deans meet, and, taking into consideration the input from the selection committee and the student reviewers, they choose the work that will be featured in the following year.

The result of this rigorous process this year was Oppenheimer, the UC Berkeley On the Same Page selection for 2024.

Our Team

Aileen Liu
Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives, L&S Division of Undergraduate Studies

Aileen Liu joined the L&S Division of Undergraduate Studies in 2021 as Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives. In this role, she oversees several campus-wide undergraduate programs, including On the Same Page, Big Ideas Courses, L&S Discovery Courses, Freshman and Sophomore Seminars, and L&S 1: Exploring the Liberal Arts. Her favorite places on campus are Morrison Library, the Dwinelle benches, the top of the Campanile (she learned to play the bells through the Carillon DeCal as a grad student), and Noon Concerts at Hertz Hall. Her freshman year common read book was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. She earned her BA in English from Duke University, and her PhD in English with a Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies from UC Berkeley.

Heather Mäkiharju
Academic Engagement Policy Analyst, L&S Division of Undergraduate Studies

Heather Mäkiharju joined the L&S Division of Undergraduate Studies in 2022 as an Academic Engagement Policy Analyst. In this role she oversees student program coordination and administration as well as curriculum planning and assessment. She has over a decade of experience working in higher education. Prior to joining the University of California, Berkeley, Heather held positions in the College of Engineering and the Medical School at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In her free time, she enjoys running and indoor cycling. Heather earned her BA in Psychology & History from Mount Holyoke College and her MA in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Academic Affairs & Student Development from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.

Selection Committee for 2025

  • Alfred Day, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Support & Belonging, Student Affairs
  • Brian DeLay, Professor of History
  • Corliss Lee, Librarian and Liaison to American Cultures, American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and College Writing
  • Katherine Snyder, Professor of English
  • Russell Vance, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Jonathan Wurtele, Professor of Physics
  • Aileen Liu, Chair, Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives



Mailing Address
University of California, Berkeley
231 Evans Hall # 2922
Berkeley CA 94720-2922

Philip Kan Gotanda, Aileen Liu, and Charles Yu
Philip Kan Gotanda, Aileen Liu, and Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown, at a reception in Durant Hall. Photo by Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani (2022)
Tommy Orange and Beth Piatote at Haas Pavilion
Tommy Orange and Beth Piatote at Haas Pavilion (2019)
Margaret Atwood and two women
At a reception before Margaret Atwood’s On the Same Page talk, she chatted with people and posed for selfies. Photo by Peg Skorpinski (2018)
Michael Pollan and woman at reception
Michael Pollan and students at On the Same Page event (2009)
Stephen Hawking with L&S Executive Dean Mark Richards
Stephen Hawking with L&S Executive Dean Mark Richards (2007)

Our Story

Launched in 2006 in L&S, On the Same Page expanded in 2012 to include all new students and faculty members at UC Berkeley. 

Our first selection was A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking, who delivered the J. Robert Oppenheimer Lecture to sold-out audiences in Zellerbach Auditorium and Wheeler Hall on March 13, 2007. In fact, the On the Same Page program came into being because of Hawking’s visit to Berkeley, the news of which spurred an anonymous donor to offer to purchase a copy of Hawking’s book for every first-year student in L&S. Mark Richards, executive dean of L&S, was inspired to establish the On the Same Page program, with the following announcement to L&S faculty:

“Each year, the L&S deans will choose a book to assign to all new freshmen in the college, providing them with a shared intellectual experience. We will mail a free copy of the book to each of our freshmen, and also make a free copy available to interested L&S faculty. Then we will create contexts in which faculty and students can discuss the book. The program will culminate each year with a public presentation by the featured author.” [1]

Since 2006, On the Same Page has sought each year to bring our newest students into conversation with some of the most exciting and profound thinkers in the world.

On the Same Page is organized by the College of Letters & Science’s Division of Undergraduate Studies and is made possible by donors to the College of Letters & Science Leadership Fund.

[1] Jonathan King, “Faculty and undergrads get on the same page” (UC Berkeley News, March 7, 2007)

Ansel Adam photograph of ceremony
Charter Day, Berkeley, 1964. Faculty and guests rise to greet Adlai E. Stevenson, late Ambassador to the United Nations. (Ansel Adams)

Get Involved

There are many ways to engage with and support On the Same Page: take a class related to the book, attend an eventvolunteer to support our events, make a donation, volunteer to be a student reviewer, and more.