August 16, 2016

Dear Colleagues: 

I am writing today to say that I have informed President Napolitano of my intention to step down as Chancellor once a successor is selected and in place. It has been a great honor to serve as the 10th Chancellor of Berkeley, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. Over the summer I have come to the personal decision that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us. 

I am especially proud of the work we have done to enhance the undergraduate experience at Berkeley, as we have launched curricular and programmatic initiatives in data science and arts and design, and begun to re-evaluate the whole student experience, including residential and extracurricular life as well as our academic structures.

The research done at Berkeley is second to none, and it has been exhilarating to learn about the breadth and depth of the research our faculty conducts across every discipline and field.  I have worked with colleagues to develop new forms of support for cross-disciplinary research, new modes of connection between research and innovation outside the university, and new ideas to ensure that Berkeley’s future contributions to knowledge will be even more impressive and important in the years ahead.  I am especially excited about the ways in which our partnership with UCSF has expanded in recent years and will provide a foundation for even more robust support for, and activity in, the bio-medical sciences. 

I have also been pleased to work with colleagues in developing new global initiatives for our university, creating significant alliances for research, new educational partnerships and programs, and ideas for new forms of global institutional collaboration. 

We have also worked hard to increase and improve philanthropy for Berkeley, a source of funding that will be ever more critical to our continued success as a university in the years ahead.  Building on the great success of the “Campaign for Berkeley,” we have posted records in fundraising for the last two years in a row ($462 M and $479 M respectively). Meanwhile we are in the final stages of completing and implementing a new development structure we call Fundraising 2.0, which will enable far better coordination across our many units while more fully leveraging our alumni and donor base.  We have also been working to build and strengthen our alumni relations. 

During my time at Berkeley we have begun to address growing concerns around sexual assault, violence, and harassment on campus, investing significant resources not only in our Title IX office, but in identifying new campus leadership, as well as better organized structures, procedures, and standards for prevention, care and advocacy, investigation and adjudication, sanctions, and community awareness and resolve. 

I have worked to increase the diversity of the senior administration, and consider the challenge of addressing issues of diversity across our administration, our faculty, our staff, and our student body, and continuing the work to improve our campus climate for all of constituencies regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual identity, as of paramount importance for our community.

I am also proud of what we have done through an earlier task force to ensure that our student athletes have the kind of support they need not only to excel in their chosen sports but in the classroom.  In the months ahead, I will work with the second task force on our athletic programs, this one to propose new ways to ensure a sound financial future for the athletic department in the larger context of our budgetary challenges.

Our most critical task now is to ensure a sustainable financial foundation for our university at a time of significantly diminished support from the state.  While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year, and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions, ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.

I pledge my total commitment to ensuring a smooth transition as I leave this post.  And I look forward to joining on a full time basis the distinguished faculty that was my primary reason for moving to Berkeley in the first place.

With gratitude to all for the opportunity of a lifetime,

Fiat Lux,
Nicholas B. Dirks