BERKELEY — A Columbia University dean was nominated Thursday as the next chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley, following a six-month search.
UC President Mark Yudof said he selected Nicholas Dirks, Columbia's executive vice president and dean of the faculty for arts and sciences, to replace outgoing Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau.
Dirks' appointment, his salary and other job terms still must be approved by the university's governing board. Birgeneau currently makes $445,716 a year, UC spokeswoman Shelly Meron said.
Birgeneau has been chancellor since September 2004 and announced in March that he planned to step down at the end of the year. He agreed to stay on through May to give Dirks time to make the move.
Dirks, 61, is an anthropologist and historian who has written three books about India. For the last eight years he has been the administrator overseeing Columbia College, a small liberal arts school within the university, and Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of International and Public Affairs, School of the Arts, School of General Studies and School of Continuing Education.
"Nicholas Dirks is a highly accomplished leader with the sensibilities and knowledge of a humanist, as well as extensive fundraising, academic and administrative expertise," Yudof said in a statement. "I'm confident he will be a great fit for UC Berkeley. His global perspective, leadership of diversity efforts at Columbia and experience with both public and private universities will serve him and the campus well."
If the UC Board of Regents agrees to the appointment, Dirks will be inheriting an institution with a reputation as one of the world's leading research universities and a hotbed of student activism.
Birgeneau has spent the last few years confronting crises arising from a sharp decline in state support caused by California's financial crisis and rowdy student protests over budget cuts and rising UC tuition, which has more than doubled during the chancellor's tenure.
He and other school administrators were criticized for a police crackdown on students who tried to set up an Occupy camp on campus a year ago.
Dirks, whose father was a dean at UC Santa Cruz during the 1970s, said he is excited by the challenges Berkeley presents.
"This is an opportunity I embrace with both excitement and humility," he said. "I look forward to becoming part of the UC community and to contributing all that I can to the further evolution of a campus that is a beacon of excellence, innovation and aspiration for California, the nation and the world."