UC Berkeley chancellor to step down at year's end

  • File - In this Dec. 14, 2011 file photo, University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau smiles during a news conference in Berkeley, Calif. The chancellor said Tuesday he plans to step down as head of the world-renowned campus at year's end. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — The chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley will step down at the end of the year as head of the world-renowned campus after extending his planned tenure to deal with steep cuts in state funding.

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, 69, originally hoped to serve for seven years but decided to stay longer because of the extraordinary challenges posed to the campus by "the most extreme disinvestment by the state in UC's history," he said in a statement Tuesday.

Birgeneau, a distinguished physicist, plans to remain at the university to teach and conduct research after he leaves office on Dec. 31.

Since Birgeneau became chancellor in September 2004, UC Berkeley has bolstered its status as one of the world's leading research universities despite a sharp decline in state support caused by California's financial crisis.

In recent years, the campus has been the scene of rowdy student protests over budget cuts and tuition hikes. Birgeneau and other school administrators were criticized for a violent police crackdown on students who tried to set up an Occupy camp on campus last fall. An investigation into the confrontation is ongoing.

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