CalMessage from Chancellor Dirks

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks released the following CalMessage on Monday morning, Jan. 13:

To the Berkeley Campus Community,

I am delighted to announce that Claude Steele, Dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, has agreed to be our next Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP), pending approval from the Regents.

When I first met with the students, faculty, staff and alumni members of the search committee for the new EVCP, I conveyed my belief that we should conduct a search designed to sustain and expand our public mission and ethos, maintain our academic excellence and distinctiveness, and advance our commitment to access, equity and diversity, knowing that we would need to look for an individual with a unique set of skills, experiences, knowledge and values.

Now, after a comprehensive national search and careful consideration of extraordinarily qualified candidates, the members of the committee and I share a conviction that Claude Steele not only meets but exceeds the hopes and expectations we brought to this search.

He is an acclaimed researcher, scholar and teacher, known widely for his influential work in education and social psychology, where he has made important contributions to understanding how people cope with threats to their self-image and self-identities, through his research on stereotype threat, self-affirmation and addictive behavior. His academic work is informed by a deeply empirical, scientific approach to his field, an orientation that served him well as the director of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, and then at Columbia University, where he led a major initiative to enhance support for the basic sciences.

Claude’s research has been recognized by membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and by numerous other honors including Honorary Doctorates from universities across the country who have recognized his intellectual leadership, advocacy for diversity and academic accomplishments.

Beyond his current role at Stanford, Claude’s experience as an academic leader includes his service as Provost at Columbia University, where I worked closely with him, and found him to be an extraordinarily gifted administrator and visionary leader deeply committed to academic excellence, innovation and collaboration.

Claude is no stranger to public higher education. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1971 and began his academic career at the University of Utah, moving from there to the University of Washington, and then to the University of Michigan before joining Stanford University in 1991 as a Professor of Psychology.  He remained at Stanford until 2009 when he moved to Columbia University as Provost. In 2011, he was recruited back to Stanford as Dean for the Graduate School of Education.

There is perhaps no better expression of Claude’s personal and professional qualifications for this position than his revelatory book, Whistling Vivaldi: How  Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, that helped secure his status as one of the leading social psychologists of our time and an important public intellectual. Published in 2010, that work summarizes his years of meticulous research on stereotype threat and the underperformance of minority students in higher education. Beyond the book’s intellectual rigor and fluent writing, what stands out is the fact that it was written for a broad audience well beyond the scientific community for whom he has authored numerous articles, a salient example of his interest in and commitment to advancing the public good through deep engagement in pressing societal issues.

There is, of course, much more to be said about our next Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. For those who wish to delve deeper into his background, goals and values, we have assembled additional information, including Professor Steele’s full resume, an extensive interview, quotes from the members of the search committee and the press release about his appointment.

Dr. Steele’s first day on the job will be March 31, and in the meantime George Breslauer has graciously agreed to continue as Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, adding a few more months to 42 years of exemplary service to this campus. I’m not sure enough can ever be said about the role George played in securing and sustaining Berkeley’s academic excellence throughout some of the most challenging years in this institution’s history. For that legacy we owe him our deepest gratitude and profound respect.

In closing, I want to say how delighted I am to be, once again, Claude’s colleague and partner in leadership. During the interview process he told us that he saw the EVCP position at Berkeley as the culmination of all he has worked for throughout an illustrious career in higher education: the best possible opportunity to put into practice all that he has taught, studied and learned. Please join me in welcoming Claude Steele to the Berkeley community.

See also:

Berkeley taps Stanford dean for top academic post

Q&A with Claude Steele

What others are saying

Claude Steele’s CV