University of California President Mark G. Yudof announced today (Nov. 8) that he has selected Nicholas B. Dirks, Columbia University’s executive vice president and dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, as UC Berkeley’s 10th chancellor.
Dirks, 61, the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History at Columbia and the author of three books on India, emerged as the top candidate after a six-month search. An advisory committee of UC faculty, students, staff, regents, alumni and foundation representatives was involved in screening applicants and conducting interviews.
The UC Board of Regents will vote on terms of the appointment at a special meeting in late November.
Dirks will succeed Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau on June 1, 2013. Birgeneau, who announced last March that he would step down as chancellor at the end of December 2012, has agreed to serve through May.
Normally, this isn't a big deal. At most schools, the chancellor is generally supportive of the athletic programs, and we never talk about the hires. But Cal isn't your typical school. There have been a long history of good to bad chancellors in our athletic department, with some helping out the Bears and some not so much.
I don't know how you all feel about Chancellor Birgeneau. There's been good (publicly supportive of Cal athletics, attends almost every home Cal football game, an ally on the SAPHC) and the bad (the PR bungling of cutting five Cal sports, the curious circumstances of the Tosh suspension, not creating a separate fund for football independent of all other athletic programs). I guess we'd be okay with another Birge, but it'd be nice to find someone who was an advocate for Cal athletics as much as they are for the academic tradition.
Obviously we are a lonnnnnng way from knowing Dirks (who I at the moment am calling "Uni-Bear", based on his attempt at being Anthony Davis's intellectual counterpart), but we can only hope that he will be supportive of the athletic programs in public and ensures their fundamental stability in private.