UCB Chancellor Robert Birgeneau (Univ of California at Berkeley)

Announcement on UC Berkeley home page. Birgeneau will continue to teach physics at the university.

The last couple of years have been even more tumultuous than usual for the university, with its historically restive student population. A series of tuition hikes have galvanized protests against system administrators around the state, and last November, during student demonstrations inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, university cops and other local law enforcement personnel were videotaped aggressively shoving their batons into protesters, as well as pulling some students by the hair, forcing Birgeneau to apologize for the police response.

Last month, emails obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Birgeneau, who had been traveling in Asia at the time of the incident and claimed “limited contact” with administration officials, showed that he did not raise any objection to the aggressive baton use after being informed of it.

From the Huffington Post:

Provost George Breslauer wrote to Birgeneau after the first round of baton blows from campus police: “Protestors locked arms to prevent police from getting to the tents. Police used batons to gain access to the tents.” Breslauer told him hundreds of students and a number of reporters were present, and that he expected the protest would carry on for days.

“This is really unfortunate,” Birgeneau wrote back using his BlackBerry. “However, our policies are absolutely clear. Obviously this group wanted exactly such a confrontation.”

A short time later, Birgeneau wrote Breslauer again to say, “It is critical that we do not back down on our no encampment policy.” Birgeneau then referenced the situation in which Oakland Mayor Jean Quan found herself consequent to her handling of Occupy Oakland, where protesters established a camp for a short time, then were kicked out.

Birgeneau has also been a strong advocate of diversity and the rights of undocumented students. He spoke out strongly against Proposition 209, the state-s anti-affirmative action statute, and the controversial Arizona immigration law, saying that he was “horrified by this law.”

For the non-controversial aspects of Birgeneau’s biography, we turn to the university web site…

Robert J. Birgeneau became the ninth chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, on September 22, 2004. An internationally distinguished physicist, he is a leader in higher education and is well known for his commitment to diversity and equity in the academic community.

Before coming to Berkeley, Birgeneau served four years as president of the University of Toronto. He previously was Dean of the School of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he spent 25 years on the faculty. He is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society and other scholarly societies. He has received many awards for teaching and for his research on the fundamental properties of materials.

University of California President Mark Yudof sung Birgeneau’s praises in a statement: “In his more than seven years as Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley, Robert Birgeneau has proven to be a passionate, dedicated and effective steward of the world’s greatest public university. He has been an ardent champion of academic excellence, as well as an unwavering advocate for the underdog.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau Announces He Will Step Down at End of Year 13 March,2012Jon Brooks

  • Anonymous

    Jump down immediately: do not wait to step down at the end of the year UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau.

    Sack the Cal.
    campus Chancellor. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau picks the pockets of
    Californian students and their parents clean. Birgeneau’s tuition/fee increases
    rank Cal. as
    the # 1 most expensive (on all-in-cost) public university. Now UC Berkeley is
    more expensive than Harvard, Yale.


    UC Berkeley Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) has forgotten he is
    a public servant, steward of the public money, not overseer of his own fiefdom.
    Tuition fee increases exceed national average rate of increase; On an
    all-in-cost  Cal. ranked # 1 most
    expensive public university; Recruits (using California tax $) out of state
    & foreign affluent $50,600 tuition students who displace qualified instate
    applicants from Cal; Spends $7,000,000 + for OE consultants to do the work of
    his management team (prominent East
    Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost); When procuring OE consultants failed to receive alternative
    proposals; Pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for several lectures; Tuition
    to Return on Investment drops below top 10; QS academic ranking falls below top


    In tough economic times, unpleasant decisions must be made.
    UC Board of Regents Chair Lansing must oust Chancellor Birgeneau

    Email opinion to  

    (The author
    has 35 years’ consulting, has taught at Cal
    where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & was not

  • Aram Jahn

    Step down NOW, and show you’re for education by giving back some of the $450K/yr you made…for doing what? 

    Or better yet: grow a pair and fire your criminal colleague:

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