UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks says he will step down

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: Choudhry resignation "in the best interests of Berkeley Law and the university as a whole." Photo: UC Berkeley
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: resigning and will leave once a successor is in place. Photo: UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced Tuesday he will step down from the position he has held for just over three years, once a successor is found and in place. The university issued a statement about the resignation around 4:20 p.m.

In a letter to the campus community, Dirks said he had come to a personal decision that “the time was right for him to step aside” to “allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us.”

The chancellor enumerated what he views as his key accomplishments while in office, including improving undergraduate education, improving practices relating to sexual harassment, and addressing the university’s structural budget deficit. The university has faced criticism for how it has dealt with sexual harassment on campus, including cases involving faculty.

Dirks concluded: “While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year, and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions, ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.” See Dirks’ full letter below.


Read more about Nicholas Dirks on Berkeleyside.

When Dirks announced a comprehensive strategic planning process in February to address the university’s deficit, the deficit was projected to be around $150 million dollars in the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

Last month UC said it was investigating allegations that Dirks misused public funds by working out in the campus gym without paying membership dues, using a personal trainer for free, and sending that trainer on a family trip with money that was not his own.

Dirks took office as UC Berkeley’s 10th chancellor on June 1, 2013. He succeeded Robert Birgeneau who stepped down in May of that year after serving nine years in the position.

The university said the Office of the President will launch the search for UC Berkeley’s next chancellor immediately and that details about the process and the anticipated timeline will be made public as they become available.


UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks pauses during a vigil for student Nicolas Leslie, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 18, 2016. This was the second vigil Dirks has had to address in two weeks for a student killed in an overseas terror attack. Photo: David Yee
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks during a vigil on July 18 for student Nicolas Leslie. This was the second vigil Dirks had to address in two weeks for a student killed in an overseas terror attack. Photo: David Yee

The Chronicle reported Dirks was planning to resign in a column by Matier and Ross published Tuesday around 4 p.m.

Below is the full text of the message Chancellor Dirks sent to UC Berkeley’s faculty, staff and students:

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing today to say that I have informed President Napolitano of my intention to step down as Chancellor once a successor is selected and in place. It has been a great honor to serve as the 10th Chancellor of Berkeley, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. Over the summer I have come to the personal decision that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us.

I am especially proud of the work we have done to enhance the undergraduate experience at Berkeley, as we have launched curricular and programmatic initiatives in data science and arts and design, and begun to re-evaluate the whole student experience, including residential and extracurricular life as well as our academic structures.

The research done at Berkeley is second to none, and it has been exhilarating to learn about the breadth and depth of the research our faculty conducts across every discipline and field. I have worked with colleagues to develop new forms of support for cross-disciplinary research, new modes of connection between research and innovation outside the university, and new ideas to ensure that Berkeley’s future contributions to knowledge will be even more impressive and important in the years ahead. I am especially excited about the ways in which our partnership with UCSF has expanded in recent years and will provide a foundation for even more robust support for, and activity in, the bio-medical sciences.

I have also been pleased to work with colleagues in developing new global initiatives for our university, creating significant alliances for research, new educational partnerships and programs, and ideas for new forms of global institutional collaboration.

We have also worked hard to increase and improve philanthropy for Berkeley, a source of funding that will be ever more critical to our continued success as a university in the years ahead. Building on the great success of the “Campaign for Berkeley,” we have posted records in fundraising for the last two years in a row ($462 M and $479 M respectively). Meanwhile we are in the final stages of completing and implementing a new development structure we call Fundraising 2.0, which will enable far better coordination across our many units while more fully leveraging our alumni and donor base. We have also been working to build and strengthen our alumni relations.

During my time at Berkeley we have begun to address growing concerns around sexual assault, violence, and harassment on campus, investing significant resources not only in our Title IX office, but in identifying new campus leadership, as well as better organized structures, procedures, and standards for prevention, care and advocacy, investigation and adjudication, sanctions, and community awareness and resolve.

I have worked to increase the diversity of the senior administration, and consider the challenge of addressing issues of diversity across our administration, our faculty, our staff, and our student body, and continuing the work to improve our campus climate for all of constituencies regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual identity, as of paramount importance for our community.

I am also proud of what we have done through an earlier task force to ensure that our student athletes have the kind of support they need not only to excel in their chosen sports but in the classroom. In the months ahead, I will work with the second task force on our athletic programs, this one to propose new ways to ensure a sound financial future for the athletic department in the larger context of our budgetary challenges.

Our most critical task now is to ensure a sustainable financial foundation for our university at a time of significantly diminished support from the state. While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year, and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions, ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.

I pledge my total commitment to ensuring a smooth transition as I leave this post. And I look forward to joining on a full time basis the distinguished faculty that was my primary reason for moving to Berkeley in the first place.

With gratitude to all for the opportunity of a lifetime,

Fiat Lux,

Nicholas B. Dirks

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[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published at 4:48 p.m. The publication time was updated at 5:15 p.m. to address a technical glitch.]