Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent this message to the UC Berkeley community today:
It is with sadness that I write to inform you that my friend and long-time colleague, Claude Steele, has decided to step down from his administrative position as UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. Claude’s many contributions will have a lasting impact on our university, including:
- Launching a budget reform and simplification effort to base planning and decision-making on more clearly understood and predictable metrics.
- Managing the university’s effort to assess and verify its financial deficit as well as develop short and long term strategies for sustaining its excellence in the face of financial challenges. I am confident that the university is now on a path to financial strength in the years ahead.
- Designing a new, more centrally managed fund-raising organization with the aim of achieving a closer relationship between the donor and alumni communities and the needs of the university.
- Improving the campus climate through the African American Initiative and the diversification of campus leaderships from the athletic department to deanships.
We will, very shortly, have an announcement about who will fill the EVCP role on an interim basis, including assuming responsibilities for leading the strategic initiatives process, and I greatly appreciate Claude’s readiness to assist with the transition. In the meantime, he has asked me to share with you the following message:
Two years ago, I joined UC Berkeley — an institution I have long admired — with excitement about its twin missions of excellence and access. It has been a privilege to devote my time and energy to growing and supporting the university, and in particular to building a more inclusive community. For academic freedom to be meaningful in the experience of our students, staff and faculty, our university has to be a place where everyone has a sense of belonging and of being valued.
For all the reasons that the chancellor just mentioned, I have been fortunate to be part of important developments here, and indeed there are so many more things I would like to be part of in the university’s near- and long-term.
Alas, my wife’s ongoing health challenges remain quite significant, and this is simply not a time in our lives where I can afford to further sacrifice our time together. The choice has thus become clear: I can no longer offer UC Berkeley the time and level of commitment it needs from its EVCP, while at the same time being a part of my family in the way I want to be.
While I am sad to leave the central administration and my beloved colleagues there, my consolation is that I won’t be far away. I am excited to return to my professional life as a psychologist and writer, and will join UC Berkeley’s Department of Psychology next year, a place and group of friends and colleagues that I have known and admired for many years. I am also excited about the opportunity to play a role at the School of Education.
I want to thank my colleagues in the central administration mightily for the support they have given me and my family, and for their continued dedication and hard work for the university and the UC system. UC Berkeley is a special place — I am proud of my work as provost, and look forward to continuing to be part of the Berkeley family.
I know you will all join me in wishing Dorothy Steele, Claude’s wife, a rapid return to good health. She is and will remain in our thoughts and prayers.
We will have an opportunity to say more about Claude’s many contributions to the university during his time as EVCP in due course; for now we thank him profoundly for his service, and wish him the very best as he returns to his professional life as a psychologist and writer, and becomes a valued full time member of our faculty. I also want to thank the Cal community for their remarkable resilience during this time of transition. I look forward to continued partnership and collaboration as we go forward with our work to secure Berkeley’s excellence and access for years to come.
Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks