-By Bay City News Service
Nicholas Dirks said today that one of his goals as the next chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley is to ensure that the university is "both excellent and accountable."
Speaking to the UC Board of Regents after they unanimously approved his appointment at the university's 10th chancellor, Dirks said, "We want to provide the best education" and as well as "keep the public trust alive at all points."
Dirks, 61, said leading UC Berkeley is "the opportunity of a lifetime" because it is "one of the greatest universities in the world."
Dirks told reporters at a news conference a short time later that, "I'm more than a little daunted by the challenges I face" because the university has lost a significant amount of state financial support in the past decade but he hopes to make up the difference by raising funds from the private sector, as his predecessor, outgoing Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, has done.
Dirks said he wants to make sure that UC Berkeley remains academically excellent yet accessible to students from all income levels, saying, "The best education comes out of a diverse community of people."
He said he's impressed that the university already has a good program to increase the access of middle class students and one of his priorities will be to increase resources for financial aid for students who need it.
Dirks, who currently is executive vice president at Columbia University in New York City, won't start his new job until June 1.
He explained to reporters that he and his family want to stay in New York until then because he has a 13-year-old son in the eighth grade who wants to finish the current school year there.
Dirks was accompanied today by his wife, Columbia history professor Janaki Bakhle, who plans to join him in Berkeley.
Birgeneau said he's "very optimistic" that Bakhle will be able to get a job as a history professor at UC Berkeley but she must still go through the faculty hiring process at the campus.
Birgeneau, 70, who has been chancellor since September 2004, announced in March that he would step down at the end of the year but has agreed to serve through the end of May to accommodate Dirks.
Dirks currently is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History at Columbia and the dean of that university's faculty for Arts and Sciences.
UC officials said that as the dean since 2004, Dirks has overseen the academic administration, operational and financial management and overall direction of 29 departments for the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and six schools.
The appointment of Dirks came only after Gov. Jerry Brown, who is on the board, said he would vote against Dirks' compensation package because
"it assumes a level of state finances and tuition increases that is not acceptable."
Noting that Dirks will make 11 percent more money than Birgeneau, Brown said the increase "does not fit in with the servant leadership that the state needs for the next several years."
Brown said California voters passed a tax increase earlier this month to help better fund education and other programs and he said, "We must use those funds judiciously."
Brown joined other regents in voting 14-0 to approve the appointment of Dirks but he was one of three regents who voted against Dirks' compensation package, which was approved 11-3.
The other regents who voted against Dirks' compensation were Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Charlene Zettel.
Dirks will get an annual salary of $486,000. University of California President Mark Yudof, who selected Dirks after a six-month search, said $436,000 of that amount will come from state and other sources and the remaining $50,000 will come from private donors.
Dirks also will receive a $30,425 relocation allowance, an annual auto allowance of $8,916 and housing on campus.
Regent George Kieffer of Los Angeles defended Dirks' pay package, saying UC Berkeley "is the number one public university in the world and is number three of all the universities in the world but the chancellor's salary ranks only in the bottom third of research universities."
Yudof told reporters that Dirks actually is taking a pay cut, as he makes $500,000 a year at Columbia, where he is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History at Columbia and the dean of that university's faculty for Arts and Sciences.
Yudof said the chancellor should be paid well because "we need visionaries in these jobs and they need to raise money."