UC Berkeley’s newest Chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, took over the post on June 1, replacing Robert Birgeneau. We speak to him about his vision for higher education, how the university will meet financial challenges, and what he thinks about his possible new boss: former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of UC Berkeley

  • Magnus

    Mr Dirks, if students were to protest on campus about the major injustices and scams of our time, be those the exploits of the criminal bankers who even now escape prosecution, or useless wars of aggression that enriched the military industrial complex, or the outsourcing of jobs to India and China and the mass importation of workers on H1B visas from there to assist in that outsourcing, or the decades-long devaluation of the dollar, or any other issue, would attack them using the police as weapons, as if they were a lower caste to be trampled and cast aside?

  • Skip Conrad

    There seems to be two visions for UC. One, the public university with low tuition, accessible exclusively by “residents” of the state. The second is the elite internationally institution, open to all on the planet, based on talent and merit.

    I am always impressed talking with a previous generation of UC graduates, about the accessiblity, low cost, and seamlessness of their UC education. Today, more and more a UC education strikes me as a bureaucratic nightmare.

    I suspect Nepalitano will pursue the latter vision. She grew up in other states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico. Attended Santa Clara University, as an undergraduate and validictorian, but not UC. The reason she is being hired, is not for her background in education, but rather for her political connections in Washington and elsewhere. I am not happy with the choice.

    • Tyranipocrit

      i suspect she is there to spy in some capacity.

  • Brahinsky JD

    I am a graduate student in the UCs and as a Teaching Asssitant for 6 year I have been watching the quality of classes decline precipitously – a friend TAd for an intro to science class with 300 students – 300 students, with one TA. When folks came to prep for the final and midterm, she had 130 students in a one hour discussion section. That meant that 1/4 of the class failed out, and it was very clearly the students coming from already marginalized situations. How can we address this growing problem with class size and decreasing educational quality?

    • Brahinsky JD

      he said 75% have enrollments under 30 – that is not the experience of most undergrads, so it is likely counting all sorts internships and perhaps even sections as classes – where is that data?

      • Another Mike

        Probably all the junior and senior year classes, especially electives.

      • Tyranipocrit

        your statement is unclear. Please clarify.

      • Brahinsky JD

        dirks said 75% of berkeley classes are enrolled at under 30 students, i am wondering what he put together to get that data as it contradicts the study i have been involved in on the same topic

  • Another Mike

    The appointment of Janet Napolitano makes sense. Professors are seldom known for their administrative skills, while Ms. Napolitano has run a busy Attorney General’s office, a populous state, and the Department of Homeland Security.

    • jurgispilis

      True, but not without controversy.

      • rosalindr

        Is anything without controversy these days?

    • Tyranipocrit

      one would have to be very naive or in total denial to think she is not ther in some “homeland” pretense. The 1% fear American people mre than they fear outside terrorists. The NSA scandal is directly related. They are seeking Americans who would undermine the tyranny of the 1% and false government controlled by the 1%–the plutocracy. She is there to head an operation that will spy on students from abroad and domestic. Where do uprisings come from–the educated. Californians being one of the most progressive places in America.

      After 911 everyone knows spies were placed in classrooms to monitor professors and uppity students–and asked to report on them. A fact. In every tyrannical takeover in history–the educated were targeted first. Universities are the front lines of resistance. She is there to control, manipulate and spread fear while she monitors professors, administration, and students. The PARTY has moved into the halls of higher education. how long before it is transparent–with an SS officer in his office down the hall.

      The fact that this is being ignored is frightening.

  • Kurt thialfad

    “40% of UC undergrad students pay no tuition”. Ok, fine. How many Harvard undergrad students pay no tuition? How many Columbia undergrad students pay no tuition?

    The problem with grants, scholarships, and such aid – is that it is ‘selective’, based are arbitrary criteria, chance, and luck. Who is getting the aid, and who is not? With a low cost, public university, the financial aspect is an open book, and everybody is treated equally – with no ‘special’ treatment.

    • Another Mike

      Subsidy of the state universities rose and fell with the Cold War, when California was lined with military bases and defense plants.

  • OldVet

    I know nothing of Napolitano other than she says little. Higher Ed must transform or die. The Kahn Academy illumines the new world where knowledge can be shared. Both higher ed and work is altering with robots, internet and the old ways will die…. hard if necessary.

    As el Duce said:’ Fascism is Corporatism’ and we will soon make explicit what we are. Do we spit on the victory of the greatest generation.

    What, then, will be the organizing principle? Education is failing by its own weight. Corporations and Banks are ascendant.

    I scare myself. Labor is organizing around a phantom, factories are now peopled by robots. Who is it that will get a grip on this ? Or will we all sit back and become serfs in paradise.

    • Tyranipocrit

      you speak truth

  • Tyranipocrit

    down with homeland security and those who support it! down with the 1%!! down with the plutocracy!!! Down with the bankers!!!! Down with the Military Industrial Complex!!!!!!! Down with the fascist corporate aristocracy and their cowardly minions!!!!!!

    Down with Nepalitano!!!!!!!!!! she looks like a pizza.

    • OldVet

      Hey, Go somewhere with your intelligence, Tyrani! Down is good if you go deep. As an Iroquois sage once said: “Save the Earth’ is silly. The earth will remain. Save the surface people.”

      Resist the monster, provide alternatives. You have better stuff in you than name calling.

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