|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Monday, June 28, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle 6-28-04
UC Berkeley close to picking chief
After months of searching, UC Berkeley may be close to naming a new chancellor -- and from what we hear, all signs are pointing to physics professor and University of Toronto President Robert Birgeneau.
In fact, university sources say he's the only candidate being mentioned.
It probably doesn't hurt that he happens to be a personal friend -- not to mention onetime AT&T Bell Laboratories colleague -- of University of California President Robert Dynes. And a fellow Canadian to boot.
Birgeneau, 62, confirmed Friday that he interviewed for the top UC Berkeley post a month ago, but said he has not yet received an offer -- and hasn't pressed for one, either.
"My experience is that it's not helpful to be calling saying, 'Why aren't you offering me a job?' '' Birgeneau said.
Nonetheless, Birgeneau left little doubt that he's ready to take the post if it comes his way, saying that Berkeley is "simply the best teaching and public research university'' and that "no matter what happens, I feel privileged to be in that pool of candidates considered to lead it.''
Birgeneau says he would bring to the job "a very deep commitment to equity and inclusion'' and "a very strong background in teaching and research. ''
He also said that the University of Toronto, which he has headed since 2000 -- after more than two decades at MIT, including a stint as dean of the School of Science -- is "probably even more complicated than Berkeley.'' The university has 68,000 students, including a medical school linked to nine hospitals.
Not that Birgeneau hasn't faced his share of controversy. He ran into a political firestorm over his selection of a provost from the University of Michigan, who resigned earlier this year amid complaints about her leadership.
Berkeley's current chancellor, Robert Berdahl, announced in September that he would be leaving in June -- and sources say a series of family illnesses is adding to the urgency of his departure.
As for why UC hasn't moved on naming his replacement, there is speculation that the university is waiting for a resolution to this year's budget in Sacramento -- which could play a factor in setting the new chancellor's salary.
Berdahl earned $315,000, but other compensation pushed his package to more than $500,000 a year.
Birgeneau, however, insisted money wouldn't be a sticking point.
"I don't care about money, so it's never an issue,'' he said. "It's not a driver in my life.''
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