Nicholas Dirks in the News

The following are a selection of articles about Berkeley's 10th chancellor, Nicholas Dirks:

May 4, 2017

We can still be the institution that represents the genuine democratization of knowledge and opportunity. Even in this new and sometimes daunting world, we can still be utopians, “together, here, now,” as I said when I first arrived here four years ago.

April 26, 2017

The University of California, Berkeley, and the community around it have been symbols of free speech for more than 50 years. We still celebrate the legacy of Mario Savio and others who fought in the 1960s to ensure that the First Amendment be honored on campus.

But today Berkeley is facing extraordinary challenges to living up to this legacy. The campus has become a magnet for groups who seek to use the site of the birth of the Free Speech Movement as a staging ground for violence and disruption.

February 23, 2017

UC Berkeley has joined a coalition of the country’s top colleges and universities in the American Talent Initiative(link is external), a Bloomberg Philanthropies and Aspen Institute-led effort that met for the first time last week. Our collective goal is to educate 50,000 more low- to moderate-income students by 2025.

February 19, 2017

Lessons from a shameful chapter of our nation’s past take on renewed relevance in our current political moment as fear, racism, xenophobia and jingoism again endanger the civil rights of friends and neighbors, while simultaneously betraying our country’s bedrock values.

February 10, 2017

As a campus community, it befits us to debate issues about which we feel strongly, and to do so with respect for evidence, truth and for the power of argument. Recent op-ed submissions to this newspaper have, however, shifted the debate from one about freedom of speech and the First Amendment to naked endorsements of violent suppression of free speech in the name of supposedly higher values. 

February 3, 2017

In an interview Friday, Peter Sittler, a sophomore at Berkeley and vice president of the organization that sponsored Yiannopoulos’s visit, the Berkeley College Republicans, told me the school’s administration, from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on down, “worked tirelessly to plan [the event] and make sure it went through.”

January 26, 2017

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent the following message to the campus community on January 26th.

July 11, 2016

May 9, 2016

April 11, 2016

This message was sent to campus faculty and staff on April 11, 2016.

April 1, 2016

This message was sent to campus faculty on April 1, 2016

March 30, 2016

This message was sent to campus faculty, staff and students on March 30, 2016:

March 28, 2016

This message was distributed to UC Berkeley staff on March 28, 2016. 

March 2, 2016

Campus leaders, including Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele, participated in a Leadership Roundtable staff event, March 9. The event, co-sponsored by Berkeley Staff Assembly (BSA) and the Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Committee (CSAC), provided an opportunity for staff to engage with campus leadership regarding the campus’ strategic planning and analysis process that are underway. The event was attended by approximately 150 staff, while many others watched online via a live stream video.

February 23, 2016

LA Times

The grand disagreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and University of California President Janet Napolitano has never been resolved. There have been some cease-fires, one showdown and a couple of deals struck. But the deeper argument remains: What sort of institution should the University of California be in the years ahead?

Full article: What's next for Berkeley and UC?(link is external)

February 11, 2016

UC Berkeley announces major strategic planning initiative to address long-term budgetary concerns. Is it a canary in the coal mine or will it emerge as a model for other institutions seeking similar solutions?

Full article: Can Berkeley stay Berkeley?(link is external)

February 10, 2016

October 1, 2015

Times Higher Ed

Public universities must establish new sources of funding if they are to avoid having to choose between access and excellence, the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley has claimed.

Full article: Nicholas Dirks: public universities need not choose between access and excellence(link is external)

September 22, 2015

With Chancellor Nicholas Dirks entering his third year in the position, the Daily Californian’s Senior Editorial Board sat down with Dirks and campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof to discuss recently released college rankings and the importance of a public university.

Full Article: Chancellor Nicholas Dirks discusses college rankings, importance of public university

February 2, 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education

"We need to provide a coherent defense of the liberal arts, for their role in the larger university and for the broader society. For me, the defense is both deeply personal and based on intellectual and institutional arguments."

Full article: Why I Miss the Culture Wars(link is external)

January 12, 2015

Inside Higher Ed

"Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has proposed that the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay will be 'a new form of international hub' in which a group of leading foreign universities and technology companies will establish satellite locations on a 130-acre parcel of Berkeley-owned land located a mere 10 miles from the main campus."

Full article: A Global Hub, Close to Home(link is external)

January 5, 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education

"The campus’s main goal, Dirks said, is to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to global problems like climate change, income inequality, epidemic diseases, and the need for new forms of sustainable energy."

Full article: Berkeley Plans to Build a Global Campus, Ten Miles from Home(link is external)

September 17, 2014

SF Chronicle

"Chancellor Dirks will introduce, and in some cases interview, the performers, writers and other notables appearing at Berkeley Talks, a new series he created with Cal Performances Director Matías Tarnopolsky. It’s the first move in the chancellor’s initiative to engage people across campus and in the wider community with the arts."

Full article: Nicholas Dirks: Intimate Chats in the Public Spotlight(link is external)

July 22, 2014

The Chronicle of Higher Education

"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."

June 2, 2014

The Atlantic

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."

May 1, 2014

Times Higher Education

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.

Full article: The Podcast: University of California(link is external)

April 23, 2014

The White House

As part of the White House Call to Action(link is external) 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.

March 13, 2014

The Daily Californian

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.

Full article: Dirks Speaks on Building Public- and Private- Sector Support for Undergraduates(link is external)

March 12, 2014

Speech prepared for delivery at The Commonwealth Club San Francisco, California. Read the full speech (PDF)(link is external).

February 21, 2014

The Daily Californian

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.

Full article: Together Our School Can Continue to Lead(link is external)

January 22, 2014

The Huffington Post

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."

Full article: UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: 'Business Has to Step Up'(link is external)

August 27, 2013


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.

Full article: UC Berkeley Launches New Year with a Positive Outlook(link is external)

The Daily Californian

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. 

Full article: Dirks Outlines Goals for First Year at Helm(link is external)

Berkeley Patch

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.

Full article: New Cal Chancellor Says No to 'P-Word'(link is external)

August 26, 2013

SF Chronicle

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.

Full article: UC Berkeley Emerges from Recession with Confidence(link is external)

Oakland Tribune

"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."

Full article: New Chancellor Nicholas Dirks Prepares for his First Semester at Cal(link is external)

San Francisco Appeal

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.

Full article: New UC Berkeley Chancellor Says School Needs to Rely Less on State, More on Donors(link is external)

July 15, 2013

SF Chronicle

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. Read the full SF Chronicle article(link is external).

July 12, 2013

Los Angeles Times

"Nicholas B. Dirks, the former executive vice president and dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Columbia University, began his tenure as chancellorof UC Berkeley . . . "

Full article: A Brighter Outlook for Higher Education in California

June 16, 2013

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

May 3, 2013


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(link is external) of the “Fiat Lux Remix” contest.

May 1, 2013

UC Berkeley NewsCenter
Appearing not as a future chancellor but as a fellow faculty member, Nicholas Dirks led a history department colloquium Tuesday on “Scholars and Spies: World War II and the Emergence of South Asian Area Studies.” In his talk, Dirks outlined ties between prominent academics and U.S. intelligence agencies during the 1940s and ’50s, and the “profound impact” those connections would have on American intellectual life.