Chancellor-designate Nicholas Dirks met with students and faculty at a forum Thursday night to answer questions about his vision for UC Berkeley.
About 80 students and faculty members attended the forum at Anna Head Alumnae Hall. Students asked questions that spanned student athletics, Dirks’ time as dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Columbia University and his relationship with the UC Board of Regents.
At the event, Dirks said he supported UC Berkeley’s public mission and that he hopes to have a positive influence on the university.
“I believe that UC Berkeley is not just the greatest public university, but it is the best university because it is public,” Dirks said. “I want this university to be a place that educates both undergraduate and graduate students and makes them future leaders.”
Dirks also said he hopes to work closely with student groups and the ASUC, noting that at Columbia — where he previously worked — there was no student group like the ASUC that directly represents the interests of students.
“Berkeley has a long tradition of making students’ voices heard, and I am willing to listen to those issues and address them,” Dirks said. “I want to set up regular evening sessions in the University House with multiple student groups and have open discussions to bring attention to not only problems in the student community but to solutions as well. Together, we can resolve any issue.”
ASUC President Connor Landgraf said it was valuable that students met Dirks at the forum so they could see he was willing to take on the challenges facing UC Berkeley.
“I think it’s really important for him to meet with students,” Landgraf said. “This shows that he wants engage with students and know them personally.”
On Wednesday, Dirks met with the ASUC Senate at its weekly meeting. Dirks aimed to address senators’ concerns and answer their questions, Landgraf said.
“The meeting last night went very well,” Landgraf said. “He is very respectful to students and their concerns, and he spent a lot of time answering questions. I think he will be a fantastic chancellor because he understands the students’ needs and concerns. I’m excited to see what he does.”
After the forum, campus freshman Riley Murray said he believes that Dirks’ background makes him well-suited to address the problems facing the university. Murray was impressed by Dirks at the meeting and thinks the chancellor-designate will have a calming influence on the university.
“He’s not what I expected,” Murray said. “He made it very clear that he hasn’t yet gone into the intricacies of all of (UC) Berkeley’s issues, but he displayed a curiosity and a willingness to solve these problems rather than just being obliged to solve them.”
Contact Seif Abdelghaffar at [email protected].