Berkeley taps Stanford dean for top academic post

The UC regents will be asked to approve the selection of Claude Steele, a preeminent scholar of social psychology and dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, as the next executive vice chancellor and provost of UC Berkeley.

Claude Steele

Claude Steele (Photo by Linda Cicero, Stanford University)

Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced the appointment on Monday, noting Steele’s stellar academic accomplishments, and his strong record of leadership both at Stanford and at Columbia University, where Steele served as provost from 2009 to 2011.

“Claude is world-class scholar, an extraordinarily gifted administrator and a visionary leader with a deep commitment to teaching, innovation and collaboration,” Dirks said. “He is uniquely qualified to help sustain and expand our public mission and ethos, maintain our academic excellence and access and advance on our commitment to diversity in every sense of the word. We look forward to welcoming him to Berkeley.”

Leadership experience

Steele has an exemplary record of leadership at major institutions across the country, and said he looks forward to bringing that experience to UC Berkeley.

“With its public mission and vigorous commitment to broad access and academic excellence, UC Berkeley holds a special place among the world’s great universities. I am thrilled and honored by this opportunity to serve this great institution and contribute to its mission,” Steele said.

Q&A with Claude Steele

Q. What about Berkeley appeals to you?

A. Berkeley is a great university. And it’s achieved that eminence while maintaining a public mission and a deep commitment to broad access and to being an instrument of upward mobility in society. So it is, when you think about it, an incredibly important cultural and societal achievement. Berkeley is a jewel in the crown of one of the greatest systems of higher education ever created.

That’s really at the core of my wanting to take this position.

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Steele currently serves as the I. James Quillen Dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, a position he’s held since 2011. As dean he led the school toward a deeper engagement in public education, including a major partnership between the school and the San Francisco Unified School District.

In his prior role as Columbia University’s provost, Steele led and implemented academic policies and plans for the university, including a major initiative to enhance support for the basic sciences. While at Columbia, he was responsible for managing the work of the university’s faculty, departments, research centers and institutes, as well as oversight of the university’s budget and financial planning.

Steele was selected after a nationwide search that produced a number of extraordinarily qualified candidates. Interviews and candidate evaluation were conducted by a search committee that included faculty, staff, student and alumni representation.

The search committee warmly supports Steele’s selection. Professor Betty Deakin, a member of the search committee and chair of Berkeley’s Academic Senate, praised Steele’s academic and administrative credentials.

“Professor Steele is an experienced and savvy administrator and top-flight scholar,” Deakin said.  “His commitment to public education is strong, and he is an effective advocate for diversity in all its forms. The Academic Senate looks forward to collaborating closely with him on the shared governance of the university.”

World-renowned scholar

A renowned and respected social scientist, Steele has devoted much of his academic career to groundbreaking social psychology research around issues of group stereotypes, self-identification, self-evaluation and academic achievement. His work is widely published, and his research has been extensively used by educators and policymakers to develop practical applications and interventions that improve academic performance among underrepresented groups.

What others are saying

Bahar Navab, a Graduate Assembly vice president:

“Claude will be a bold change agent for helping us improve faculty and student diversity, improve professional development for graduate students and find new funding streams.Together with Chancellor Dirks, I think he can help push Berkeley to the next level as a public research university.”

Betty Deakin, chair of Berkeley’s Academic Senate:

“Professor Steele is an experienced and savvy administrator and top-flight scholar. His commitment to public education is strong, and he is an effective advocate for diversity in all its forms. The Academic Senate looks forward to collaborating closely with him on the shared governance of the university.”

 (read more)

Steele’s most recent book, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, published in 2010, summarizes his years of research on stereotypes and their effects on intellectual and academic performance among underrepresented and minority students. Written for a broad audience, the book has advanced public discussion and engagement around this salient societal issue.

Steele’s scholarly contributions have been recognized with membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He has served as president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, president of the Western Psychological Association, and as a member of the board of directors of the American Psychological Society. In 2011, he was elected to the National Science Board.

Commitment to education

Steele received his Ph.D. in psychology from the Ohio State University in 1971, and over the next 20 years, he taught at the University of Utah, the University of Washington and the University of Michigan. He joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1991, where he remained until 2009, when he moved to Columbia University as provost. In 2011, Stanford recruited him back to lead the Graduate School of Education.

Steele said, “I am the recipient of a great public education, and I have spent much of my career finding ways to successfully address the challenges of preserving access, excellence and opportunity on college campuses across the country. I am deeply committed to UC Berkeley’s public mission, and I look forward to working with Chancellor Dirks and the entire campus community to sustain and strengthen this mission in the years to come.”

In addition to serving as executive vice chancellor and provost, Steele will have an appointment as a professor in the Department of Psychology.

Chief academic officer

As executive vice chancellor and provost, Steele will serve as the chief academic officer for UC Berkeley’s 14 schools and colleges. Working closely with the Faculty Senate and student leaders, Steele will have leadership responsibility for all academic programs, faculty recruitment and retention and undergraduate and graduate education.

“Claude will be a bold change agent for helping us improve faculty and student diversity, improve professional development for graduate students, and find new funding streams,” said Bahar Navab, a Graduate Assembly vice president and a member of the search committee. “Together with Chancellor Dirks, I think he can help push Berkeley to the next level as a public research university.”

The UC Board of Regents will vote on the appointment and terms of employment, including compensation, at its next meeting in January. If approved, Steele is expected to assume the position on March 31. Steele will succeed retiring Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, who has served in that role since 2006.

 See also:

CalMessage from Chancellor Dirks

Claude Steele’s CV (PDF)