UC Board of Regents, campus groups begin search process for UC Berkeley’s next chancellor

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Hannah Lee/File

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On Wednesday, UC President Janet Napolitano announced the first steps of the global search for UC Berkeley’s next chancellor after accepting Nicholas Dirks’ intention to resign last week.

The announcement, made in a letter to representative leaders throughout the UC system, described the search committee — consisting of representatives from UC Berkeley and elsewhere in the UC system — that will evaluate potential candidates for chancellor. The letter also set deadlines for different stages of the selection process in the hopes of selecting a final candidate before the March 15 to 16 UC Board of Regents meeting.

Bob Jacobsen, dean of undergraduate students in the College of Letters and Sciences, said the March deadline to approve the final candidate sounded “pretty aggressive.”

“Finding a chancellor for an institution with 30,000 employees, $2 billion worth of decisions that can take care of 30,000 students, that takes time,” Jacobsen said. “That’s not just a classified in the San Francisco Chronicle.”

As dictated by Board of Regents policy, the committee will consist of 17 members. Five members are regents, selected by the chair of the Board of Regents, who also serves on the committee. It will also feature four UC Berkeley faculty members and singular representatives for undergraduate students, graduate students and staff.

In the letter, Napolitano gave campus groups such as the ASUC and campus Academic Senate until Sept. 6 to nominate their representatives for the committee.

ASUC President Will Morrow said the undergraduate representative would likely be he or another ASUC executive, but he is pushing for further student involvement in the process.

“It’s easy to see the role as chancellor as strictly an administrative one, but it is as much of one that matters on a personal level, on a human level,” Morrow said. “I hope that students bring a voice for a chancellor who prioritizes empathy, respect and recognizes the needs of a diverse and intersectional campus.”

The search committee will be assisted by a recruiting firm — Isaacson, Miller — that specializes in executive searches, according to the letter. The firm has previously helped find high-level officials at UC Irvine, UC San Francisco and UC Santa Barbara, as well as Ivy League schools, including Harvard University.

According to the firm’s website, 43 percent of the executives hired with their help have been women, and 23 percent have been people of color. All 10 of UC Berkeley’s chancellors have been male, with one — Chang-Lin Tien — serving as the first Asian-American head of a major American university.

The search committee will also feature one UC Berkeley alumnus and a representative from the UC Berkeley Foundation — which manages private fundraising efforts for the campus. A faculty member from a different UC campus will also serve on the committee.

The search committee will narrow the field of candidates to at least five for final interviews, and Napolitano will ultimately select a choice to submit for approval before the regents.

Napolitano plans to announce the confirmed members of the search committee Sept. 12.

Contact Jennifer Cain at [email protected].