Regents approve Berkeley chancellor appointment

 The University of California Board of Regents today (Nov. 27) approved the appointment of Nicholas B. Dirks, executive vice president and dean of the faculty for Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, as the 10th chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Selected by UC President Mark G. Yudof after a six-month search, Dirks will succeed Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau on June 1, 2013. Birgeneau, who announced last March that he would step down at the end of December 2012, has agreed to serve through May 2013.

"I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity at a truly great institution of higher learning that is both a beacon of excellence and a powerful engine of opportunity," Dirks said. "The university serves the public good by educating individuals from all walks of life and supporting research that affects the lives of many millions of people in California and beyond. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to listen to as many people as possible, and learn about the university from them."

In addition to overseeing six schools and 29 departments for the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences at Columbia, Dirks, 61, is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History. He is the author of three books on India. He helped build academic programs in areas such as economics, statistics, sustainable development and nanoscience at Columbia. He also led a major diversity initiative for Arts and Sciences, and supported and expanded programs in international, ethnic, African American and gender studies.

"Nicholas Dirks is a humanist with an invaluable mix of scholarship, fundraising experience and administrative expertise," Yudof said. "I am confident he is the right leader at the right time for UC Berkeley."

Before going to Columbia to chair and rebuild the Department of Anthropology in 1997, Dirks taught history and anthropology at the University of Michigan, where he co-founded the Interdepartmental Ph.D. program in Anthropology and History and directed the Center for South and Southeast Asian studies. He taught Asian history at the California Institute of Technology for nine years before moving to Michigan.

He has done extensive archival and field research in India and Britain. His major works include "The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom" (Cambridge University Press, 1987), "Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India" (Princeton University Press, 2001) and "The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain" (Harvard University Press, 2006). "Castes of Mind" was honored with Columbia's Lionel Trilling Award for Best Book in 2002.

After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in African and Asian Studies, Dirks earned a master's degree in 1974 and a Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Chicago in the Department of History, focusing on South Asian history.

The UC Regents approved an annual salary of $486,800 for Dirks, with $50,000 of that from private donors and $436,800, the same amount as Chancellor Birgeneau's annual salary, funded by state and other sources. Like Birgeneau, Dirks will receive an annual auto allowance of $8,916. Consistent with past practice, the university will provide him with a house on campus. This housing, suitable for duties such as fundraising, is maintained with non-state funds.

In addition to moving costs, Dirks will receive a one-time relocation allowance to be paid in equal annual installments of $30,425 over four years. The allowance, under UC policy, is intended to offset unreimbursed costs associated with selling his home and relocating his family from the East Coast. If he were to leave the university before the end of the four-year period, he would forfeit any remaining payments.

Dirks' wife, Columbia history professor Janaki Bakhle, will be considered for a similar or equivalent appointment at UC Berkeley. They have a 13-year-old son; Dirks also has a grown daughter from a previous marriage.