Chancellor Birgeneau announces he will step down at year’s end

Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau

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— Chancellor Birgeneau

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Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau (John Blaustein photo)

UC Berkeley | March 13, 2012

In his eighth year at the helm, Birgeneau says he is confident UC Berkeley has “a clear pathway for the years ahead”

Chancellor Birgeneau announced Tuesday that he will step down as UC Berkeley’s chancellor at the end of 2012, calling the time he has spent leading one of the world’s preeminent teaching and research universities “an immense privilege and honor.”

Birgeneau was appointed Berkeley’s ninth chancellor in September 2004, and originally planned to stay for seven years. But he decided to remain longer because of the extraordinary circumstances facing the university due to the state’s financial crisis and the steep loss of state funding.

“With the support of an exceptionally talented senior leadership team, we have worked very hard to navigate successfully the most extreme disinvestment by the state in UC’s history,” he said.

“Although challenges still remain,” the chancellor said, “I am confident that we have put into place a clear pathway for the years ahead and strategies that will support Berkeley’s ongoing excellence and its impact on the world.”

Birgeneau, an internationally distinguished physicist, plans to leave his post on Dec. 31 and said he will return to teaching and research in the departments of physics and materials science and engineering.

UC President Mark Yudof commended Birgeneau as “a passionate, dedicated and effective steward of the world’s greatest public university. He has been an ardent champion of academic excellence, as well as an unwavering advocate for the underdog.”

As chancellor, Birgeneau has kept UC Berkeley a global leader in research, education and public service, launched a successful $3 billion capital campaign, fostered multidisciplinary connections on campus to best address world problems, put in place a groundbreaking financial aid plan for middle-income families, advocated for the right to higher education for undocumented students, and overseen the creation of a 10-year plan to make the campus a national model for equity and inclusion.

“For eight years, Chancellor Birgeneau has worked tirelessly to improve access and excellence at UC Berkeley, and I wish he weren’t leaving,” said physics professor Robert Jacobsen, chair of UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate. “He has accomplished so much for faculty, staff and students, and his hard work and commitment have made a big difference in a tough environment.”

Read the full press release »