10 random facts about Chancellor-designate Nicholas Dirks

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With the end of Chancellor Birgeneau’s term in sight, Chancellor-designate Nicholas Dirks is undoubtedly preparing for his ascension to the top of the university. Having been appointed but a few months ago, you probably don’t know too much about him — but, of course, we’re here to dispel your ignorance. After all, you’re going to need some background information on the guy before you attend the student forum tonight.

1) Just to get this out of the way: The unibrow is gone! Yes, it no longer adorns the spot between his gorgeous eyes. The debate over how exactly it was removed remains unresolved. The top possibilities are duct tape and waxing, since plucking would have taken too long.

2) Despite its untimely death, the unibrow has a Twitter account. Read that sentence again to make sure you understand that. The tone and grammar of the tweets makes it unlikely that Dirks is behind it, but it’s still hilarious. And it’s just getting off the ground! Help out the ‘brow by adding to its two-follower count.

3) He has an acute sense of fashion. The tie he was wearing at his acceptance speech was customized. His wife got it for him in from of his favorite stores on Madison Avenue.

4) He believes in the power of public schools to make a university great, despite the fact that he’s spent extensive time at notable private universities such as Caltech and Columbia.

5) He wrote the books “The Hollow Crown,” “Castes of Mind,” and “The Scandal of Empire.” (We think these would’ve been better names for the books in the Hunger Games series.) They focus on India and the role that the caste system, colonialism and imperialism had on the formation of the country.

6) His interest in South Asian anthropology was piqued by his Fulbright Scholar trip to India as a young boy, where he learned to speak Tamil, a regional language, and how to play the South Indian drum.

7) His relationship with his wife, Janaki Bakhle, began when Bakhle, an editor at the time, chased Dirks to review a manuscript for a piece in the University of Minnesota Press.

8) His spectacles do only serve as a function for reading, as he tends to peer at you above them ominously when engaging you in conversation. Perhaps the piercing spirit of the ‘brow lives on.

9) He and Jerry Brown have had a bit of an indirect spat, with Brown criticizing the pay raise Dirks is getting over Birgeneau: a margin of $50,000. Brown pointed out that this was not in the spirit of “servant leadership” and voted against it, although it eventually did pass.

10)  Though he now embodies the “stereotypical professor” look with the crazed hair and thick mustache, he did have long hair during his time at Wesleyan as an undergraduate. He also managed to rock a red bandanna.

If this isn’t enough for you, there’s a half-hour-long interview following his appointment as chancellor-designate that you can check out. And if you have any questions for the man, you have a chance to air them! The student forum takes place on May 2 at Anna Head Alumnae Hall.

Image source: Public Affairs, UC Berkeley

Contact Uday Mehta at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @mehtakid.