Welcome to the Chancellor’s Office

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks

“This is an opportunity I embrace with both excitement and humility.”

Nicholas B. Dirks is UC Berkeley’s 10th chancellor. Previously, he was Columbia University's executive vice president and dean of its faculty of arts and sciences, and the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History. Also the author of three books on India, Dirks emerged as the top candidate after a six-month search.
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Dirks, Udacity CEO square off in online-learning debate

Fundamental questions about the purpose of education and the function of the university were raised Thursday evening as Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Stanford University research professor and Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun took the stage at the World Affairs Council to discuss — and, at times, debate — the future of online learning.

Chancellor Dirks Delivers Welcome Message at 2014 New Student Convocation

On August 25th, 2014, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks delivered the 2014 New Student Convocation address, welcoming students to the school and imploring them to immerse themselves in new experiences during their time on Berkeley's campus. Dirks also discussed the importance of community at an institution that prides itself on its diversity: “What we seek to build is a community of committed learners, thinkers, doers and believers who, for all their diversity — and we celebrate that — are bound together by a common connection to all that this great university represents." 
Read the full text of the address on the Berkeley NewsCenter site

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: The Utopian Past and Future of the Public University

What role should a public university play in 2014? Chancellor Dirks says that although the recent national discussion and concern about tuition costs is understandable, the commutation of education into lifetime earnings is a major threat not only to the significance of self-cultivation and understanding but also to the benefits of an undergraduate experience of the liberal arts and sciences.

Meet the Chancellor: An open Q&A with Nicholas B. Dirks

On Tuesday evening, 1/14/2013, UC Berkeley's newly inaugurated tenth chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, hosted a live 45-minute webcast for alumni and parents. Chancellor Dirks addressed questions submitted in advance from these important constituencies while sharing his vision and priorities for the direction of the university. Hear directly from the Chancellor as he discusses his focus on undergraduate education, the global university and innovation in basic and applied research across the disciplines while expanding Berkeley's primary mission elements: teaching, research and public service.

The first 100 days in photos. See some of the many outreach and orientation activities underway.

Chancellor in the News

Nicholas Dirks: Intimate chats in the public spotlight

Nicholas Dirks, an eminent anthropologist and historian in South Asian studies, had moved from Michigan to New York in 1997 to chair the anthropology department at Columbia University.  He was unpacking boxes on Aug. 15, the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, when he got a call asking him to come on the Charlie Rose show to talk about that momentous event.  “I didn’t even know who Charlie Rose was,” says Dirks, now the chancellor at UC Berkeley, who was exhausted from unpacking and declined the offer, which he later regretted...

on civility

Every fall for the last many years, we have issued statements concerning the virtue of civility on campus. This principle is one of several that Berkeley staff, students, faculty, and alumni themselves developed and today regard as “fundamental to our mission of teaching, research and public service.”  To quote further from our “principles of community”: “We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities. We respect the differences as well as the commonalities that bring us together and call for civility and respect in our personal interactions.” 

what 'ivory tower' gets wrong

My first response on seeing the film, as an academic (now administrator) who has spent an entire career in college settings, was to welcome the depiction of the dilemmas and challenges confronting a range of institutions. Yet the film made me increasingly uneasy, despite its illustrations of the power of undergraduate education. In the end, its message is that all but a handful of elite private institutions have failed to deliver a product worth the exponentially increasing price of education...

UC Berkeley's Chancellor on the Career Paths of Elite Collegians

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks drew comparisons between Columbia, Stanford, and the institution he runs.  In an Aspen Ideas Festival* panel on the state of the humanities, he summed up the difference between Ivy Leaguers in New York City and graduates of the institution he now runs. "You know, the tradition at Columbia is that you read Aristotle and then you go to Goldman Sachs," he said. "And the dream at Berkeley is to do social work and then go work for Google or Facebook."


Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and Scott Biddy, vice-chancellor for university relations at the same institution, discuss California’s public university system, the forthcoming presidential election, and an incident near the University of California at Santa Barbara last month that left six students dead - three of them from gunshot wounds.

UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Promotes Value of College to BHS Students

As part of the White House Call to Action to bring college opportunities to more students, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks came to Berkeley High School last week to talk with 140 students participating in college preparatory support programs.


Chancellor Nicholas Dirks spoke Wednesday night to an audience of alumni and other stakeholders at the Commonwealth Club of California to advocate more public and private engagement to bolster the student experience and success of the campus.
March 13, 2014 - The Daily Californian

The Utopian Past and Future of the Public University: A view from Berkeley Nicholas B. Dirks

Speech prepared for delivery at The Commonwealth Club San Francisco, California
March 12, 2014

Together our School can CONTINUE TO Lead

In an editorial published in the Daily Californian, Chancellor Dirks lays out three areas of focus for the campus: undergraduate education, a global university, and research and innovation as well as an renaissance of the arts.
February 21, 2014 - The Daily Californian

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: 'Business Has To Step Up'

In a recent interview, Chancellor Dirks called upon the business community to support higher education, "...because of waning state support for public universities, businesses' intervention may become essential if they are to continue running."
January 22, 2014 - The Huffington Post


In a time of rising tuition and shrinking budgets, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks faces the enormous task of preserving UC Berkeley’s prestige and competitive offerings. 
August 27, 2013 - The Daily Californian


With students already coming to campus to begin their classes Thursday for the 2013-14 academic year, UC Berkeley officials summed up a range of successes and plans during a special media presentation Monday afternoon.
August 27, 2013 - Berkeleyside


At a news conference Monday, the new chancellor at UC Berkeley, Nicholas Dirks, abjured the possibility of privatization for the public university, despite the long-term reduction of state support and increasing reliance on private funding.
August 27, 2013 - Berkeley Patch


UC Berkeley has emerged from the California recession with a new chancellor, new plans for helping liberal arts majors nail down that elusive career, and despite a new dependence on private dollars - a committment to remain a public resource.
August 26, 2013 - SF Chronicle 


"Coming to Berkeley is like coming to Mecca," said the new leader, Nicholas Dirks, on Monday. "It's a premier institution of higher learning at every level."
August 26, 2013 - Oakland Tribune

New UC Berkeley Chancellor Says School Needs To Rely Less On State, More On Donors

New University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said today that the university will need to rely more on philanthropy for funding but promised that it won’t become more privatized.
August 26, 2013 - San Francisco Appeal


At an elegant tea at UC Berkeley recently, Cal's new chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, fielded questions from donors asking about the arts, online education and the rising cost of college.
July 15, 2013 - SF Chronicle

a brighter outlook for higher education in california

Nicholas B. Dirks, the former executive vice president and dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Columbia University, began his tenure as chancellor of UC Berkeley...
July 12, 2013 - Los Angeles Times 


The career of incoming Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has led him out of the classroom in order to influence what happens within it.

June 16, 2013 - California Magazine

Students check out incoming chancellor

Nicholas Dirks introduced himself and fielded questions at a conversational meet-up Thursday afternoon between UC Berkeley students and the campus’s next chancellor. About 100 people turned out for what Dirks called one of the “first of a long series of conversations with you.” Earlier in the day, Chancellor Birgeneau and Dirks met with student winners of the “Fiat Lux Remix” contest. May 3, 2013