rich lyons headshot

Rich Lyons began his term as the 12th Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, on July 1, 2024, as the first undergraduate alum to serve as Chancellor, receiving his BS degree from Berkeley in 1982.* He returned to Berkeley in 1993, joining the faculty after earning his Ph.D. in Economics from MIT and following six years on the faculty at Columbia University. 

Rich’s CV details his various roles and experience

Rich’s pioneering work as a scholar focuses on how information within a society is aggregated and expressed in price signals, which in turn helps societies to make better decisions. Most of that work focuses on international exchange rates, i.e., the prices of all of one country’s goods and services relative to another. His book The Microstructure Approach to Exchange Rates was instrumental in defining the field.  

Lyons is also known for culture leadership – anchoring institutions on distinctive values that help create a cohesive community with a shared understanding of, and support for, the mission. He is a powerful advocate for public higher education that is both accessible and excellent, reflected in his favored phrase that, “It is stunning – singular even – what Berkeley is able to achieve at the scale that it achieves it.” Culture leadership in his view also connects to the “why” of great education, including not just knowledge and thinking tools, but also exposure to opportunities, which he views as fundamental to personal development. You can’t be what you can’t see – Berkeley is an engine for people to see in themselves what they could not see, imbued with a sense of stewardship for the greater good that is a signature for this public university.

Prior to serving as Chancellor, Rich served as both the Dean of Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and, over the most recent 4+ years, led the development and expansion of innovation and entrepreneurship campuswide. He did not realize how much he would enjoy fundraising when he first took the Dean role: Partnering with others to fund the future of the institution that has had more impact on his life than any other has been enjoyable and meaningful. Overseeing innovation and entrepreneurship at a university that is not just great at creating enterprises in the civic and public sectors, but is in fact #1 in the world for creating venture-funded startups (source: Pitchbook) has helped sharpen a lens on how Berkeley can participate more in all the value, economic and otherwise, that it creates, and do so in a way fully consistent with advancing its core mission (producing long-term societal benefit) and distinctive values.

Rich is an ardent supporter of the student experience, which comes in part from his own experience of the transformative effect of a Berkeley education. In 1998 he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award, Berkeley’s highest teaching award, which recognizes “sustained excellence in teaching that incites intellectual curiosity in students, inspires colleagues, and makes students aware of significant relationships between the academy and the world at large.” Asked at a meeting among colleagues what his “six-word memoir is,” Rich responded with “long-term love affair with ideas, learning.”

Rich often provokes people with the question, “just imagine where Berkeley would be without the momentous contributions to academic excellence and accessibility made possible by our alumni.” As an alum himself, and contributor since shortly after leaving Berkeley in the 1980s, Rich delights in mixing it up with alumni and working together to steward this remarkable university, truly one of society’s most important, and distinctive, assets. 

*Also a UC Berkeley undergraduate alum, Robert Sproul was appointed President of the UC system in 1930.