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UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks under investigation

University of California Chancellor Nicholas Dirks speaks to attendees at a vigil for student Tarishi Jain, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Jain, 18, was among 22 people killed during a suspected-ISIS terror attack at a cafe in Bangladesh. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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UC is investigating allegations that UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks misused public funds by working out in the campus gym without paying membership dues, used a personal trainer for free, and sent that trainer on a family trip with money that was not his own.

Rachael Nava, the UC system’s chief operating officer, sent Dirks a letter April 11 informing him that a whistleblower complaint had prompted her to launch an investigation. The news was first reported in the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
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UC Berkeley

Chancellor Dirks: Expect ‘painful changes’ at UC Berkeley

A helicopter over campus. Photo: Greg Merritt
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The comprehensive strategic review announced Wednesday by UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks promises to bring significant change to the campus, including staff cuts, academic reorganization, and a more intensive effort to sweat the university’s assets, including real estate.

“Change is difficult for everyone. In universities, change is especially difficult,” Dirks said during a press conference yesterday. “There will be some changes that are painful.”

Read Chancellor Dirks’ statement on the strategic review.

The changes may also, he said, forge a path for other universities.

“We may do some things that are unprecedented,” Dirks said. “We can show the way not just for flagship public universities but many private universities on how to adjust to very different times. Berkeley has led in the past and Berkeley will lead in the future.” … Continue reading »

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Chancellor Dirks warns of UC Berkeley’s unsustainable structural deficit

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks at Uncharted 2015. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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In a message to the UC Berkeley community at 8 a.m. today, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks warned about the consequences of “a substantial and growing structural deficit,” which he termed unsustainable.

The strong statement on the deficit announced a comprehensive strategic planning process, with a detailed reexamination of all discretionary expenditures, including athletics and capital costs. Formerly sacrosanct areas, including the number of academic departments, will be included in the review.

“We are fighting to maintain our excellence against those who might equate ‘public’ with mediocrity,” Dirks said in the statement. “What we are engaged in here is a fundamental defense of the concept of the public university, a concept that we must reinvent in order to preserve.”

According to Berkeley campus sources, the deficit this fiscal year is projected to be around 6% of the operating budget, around $150 million. The sources point to Berkeley being heavily tuition-dependent, compared to some UC campuses that have medical centers with high revenues.

Student tuition and fees make up about 30% of total campus revenues — compared to state support of 13% of revenues. In the 1980s, about half of Berkeley’s funding came from the state. Undergraduate tuition rates, the focus of vehement student protests in recent years, have not risen for the past five years and under Governor Jerry Brown’s plan, will not increase until 2017-18.

“Because this deficit does not reflect a short-term dip in funding,” Dirks’ message said, “but a ‘new normal’ era of reduced state support, responding to this deficit requires that we take a long-term view. We must focus not only on the immediate challenge, but also on the deeper task of enhancing our institution’s long-term sustainability and self-reliance.”  … Continue reading »

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Where did NYC mayor lunch with Cal Chancellor?

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nick Dirks and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio grab lunch in Berkeley. Photo: courtesy Nick Dirks/Twitter
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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Berkeley on Thursday. His schedule was no doubt full. Among other things, he and Cal professor Robert Reich joked about the disparity of their respective heights before sitting down to talk about inequality at an event co-organized by the Goldman School of Public Policy.

De Blasio also said a brief hello to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in the Green Room at the Freight & Salvage before the conversation with Reich. (Indeed it was a veritable Mayor-Palooza day for Bates who in the morning got on his bike with both Mayor Morten Kabell of Copenhagen and Mayor Albrecht Schröter of Jena, Germany, as part of the many Bike to Work day events in the city.)

De Blasio also found time to grab lunch with UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who tweeted about the get-together Friday morning. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley Chancellor: Bill Maher must speak

More than 2,500 people have singed a petition protesting Bill Maher's appearance at Cal's December commencement. Photo: Bill Maher
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Hours after a student group uninvited Bill Maher to speak at UC Berkeley’s December commencement, Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks invited him back, citing his constitutionally protected right to free speech.

“The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech,” the university said in a prepared statement. Continue reading »

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Photos: Inauguration of UC Berkeley’s chancellor Dirks

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The formal inauguration of Nicholas Dirks, UC Berkeley’s tenth chancellor, took place on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 8. The event comprised a public symposia on the three pillars of Dirks’ administration — undergraduate education, the role of the global university, and research and innovation — a noontime rally on Sproul Plaza and an investiture ceremony.

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UC Berkeley to inaugurate Nicholas Dirks as chancellor

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Nicholas Dirks will be formally inaugurated as UC Berkeley’s tenth chancellor on Friday in a celebratory event on campus that will include a colorful procession, performances and discussions about higher education in the 21st century.

Dirks, who was formerly Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, took up his new post five months ago, on June 1. He has already had a busy schedule, including handling an explosion which triggered a campus-wide evacuation in September, and appearing last month at Berkeleyside’s inaugural ideas festival Uncharted to talk about the fate of the humanities (as well as chopped liver and Bladerunner).

The inauguration on Friday is the formal welcome for the 61-year-old anthropology and history specialist who succeeded Robert J. Birgeneau as Cal chancellor. … Continue reading »

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Events

Chancellor Dirks, more new speakers for Uncharted

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: Choudhry resignation "in the best interests of Berkeley Law and the university as a whole." Photo: UC Berkeley
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New UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks will be one of the speakers at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on October 25-26. Dirks, a historian and anthropologist whose work focuses on India, will be in conversation. The subject: “What are the humanities — chopped liver?”

Among the other speakers recently added to the lineup for what promises to be an enthralling new gathering for those wishing to broaden their horizons are Dan Miller from the Roda Group, who will speak about strategies to tackle climate change, and Joshua Bloom, co-founder of big data startup wise.io and a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley. Bloom plans to demystify the “uncanny valley” of machine intelligence for festival-goers.

What else is happening at Uncharted? Chris Anderson on the new industrial revolution, UC Berkeley’s Ananya Roy on poverty, food pioneer Mollie Katzen on the changes in our eating, Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas on the 2014 midterm elections, Business Insider’s Josh Barro on the future of political parties, io9’s Annalee Newitz on humans and mass extinction… and much, much more, including a lab-style workshop, and a great Friday night party for festival-goers at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Institute. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Interview: UC Berkeley’s new Chancellor, Nicholas Dirks

Nicholas Dirks. Photo: UC Berkeley
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The second floor of California Hall is bright and airy, with a hushed air of importance. As Berkeleyside ascended the staircase last week, Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley’s head of communications, alerted us to prepare for a shock: The new chancellor was wearing jeans.

When Nicholas Dirks greeted us in his office, he was indeed in jeans, with a pressed pale pink shirt (he made an unnecessary excuse for the jeans: “It’s the middle of August.”). The tall bookcases in the office were filled with scholarly texts, as well as popular fiction and nonfiction. For a man who oversees the well-being of 36,000 students, more than 1,500 faculty members, 8,477 staff, 130 academic departments, and a $2.2 billion budget, Dirks’ desk was remarkably clutter-free. A large Apple display was crowded with email messages. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley names Columbia dean as new chancellor

Nicholas B. Dirks says of his appointment, “This is an opportunity I embrace with both excitement and humility.” (Eileen Barroso photo / Columbia University)
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Nicholas B. Dirks, Columbia University’s executive vice president and dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, will succeed Robert J. Birgeneau as UC Berkeley’s 10th chancellor, the university announced Thursday.

Dirks is set to begin at Cal on June 1, 2013. Birgeneau announced in March that he would step down in December, but has agreed to serve through May, according to the university.

Dirks was born in Illinois but grew up in Connecticut, according to a statement released by UC Berkeley. He and his wife, Columbia history professor Janaki Bakhle, have a 13-year-old son, and Dirks has a grown daughter from a prior marriage.

Dirks taught in California earlier on his career and has family connections to the state as well; his late father served as vice chancellor and dean for humanities at UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s, and his mother is a longtime California resident.

“This is an opportunity I embrace with both excitement and humility,” Dirks said, via the university statement. “I have immense respect for the countless accomplishments of faculty, students and staff at what I consider to be the premier public research university in the world. I look forward to becoming part of the UC community and to contributing all that I can to the further evolution of a campus that is a beacon of excellence, innovation and aspiration for California, the nation and the world.”

The university’s Board of Regents will vote on the terms of the appointment at a special meeting in late November. … Continue reading »

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Cal Chancellor Birgeneau to step down by year end

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced today that he will step down from the chancellorship at the end of this calendar year. Birgeneau has been chancellor since September, 2004.

His term was dominated by both financial struggles, as state funding of the University of California system was steadily squeezed, and controversy over the handling of campus protests in recent years.

Birgeneau plans to return to his academic post in the Departments of Physics and Material Sciences and Engineering. In his message to the UC Berkeley community, he wrote that he hopes he has “at least one more truly significant physics/materials science experiment still to come in my academic career”. … Continue reading »

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Chancellor apologizes for Occupy Cal police response

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Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued an apology today for police tactics during Occupy Cal protests on November 9 on campus.

In a recording made while en route to spending Thanksgiving with his children and grandchildren on the East Coast, Birgeneau said he took full responsibility for the events that day and would do “his very best to ensure that this does not happen again.”

The manner in which the police handled Occupy Cal protesters on that November night has come under scrutiny and attracted attention. … Continue reading »

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Shaken Cal Chancellor recalls Kent State, Virginia Tech

Chancellor Robert Birgenau and UC Police Chief Mitch Celaya at today's press conference. Photo: Lance Knobel
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[See update at foot of story.]

“Now we’re there along with Kent State and Virginia Tech,” said a visibly upset Chancellor Robert Birgeneau at the end of a press conference today about the shooting at the Haas School of Business. No students, faculty or staff were injured in the incident — the only injury was to the unidentified suspect.

The chancellor received news of the incident at his home, following a lunchtime meeting there. He had thought the main focus of the day would be the Occupy Cal protests. “We’re very pleased with the way the students have conducted themselves today,” Birgeneau told the press conference. “I have confidence in our students that they’ll stay focused on the important issues, which are disinvestment in higher education by our state and higher tuitions.”

But the first shooting on the Cal campus for over 20 years changed the tenor of the day.

According to UC Police Chief Mitch Celaya, there is no evidence that the suspect had any connection to the protests. Throughout his description of the events leading to the shooting, he cautioned that his department was at a “very preliminary stage” of the investigation. The press conference was held at 4:00pm, less than two hours after the incident. … Continue reading »

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