(Peg Skorpinski photo)
UC Berkeley | March 13, 2012
From Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities:
“Robert Birgeneau is a leading national spokesman for public higher education and for making sure that all qualified students, no matter what their income level, have access to an excellent education. He has maintained Berkeley’s powerful academic standing during a severe economic crisis, launched a successful $3 billion capital campaign, and had the vision to create the first program at a public university to help middle-class families pay for an undergraduate degree. He continues to keep public service a commitment UC Berkeley is known for around the world by bringing research to bear upon the most dire global problems. All of us at the AAU will miss his leadership and his friendship.”
From Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities:
“Bob Birgeneau has been a strong advocate and leading national thinker on the future of public research universities. He has had a deep commitment to educating a diverse student population, including Pell Grant eligible students. We will miss his thoughtful voice at the council of presidents and chancellors.”
From Mark Yudof, president of the University of California:
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.
A world-renowned physicist, the Chancellor grasped early on the growing importance of multi-disciplinary research to addressing the complex problems of the 21st century. This foresight led him to foster a variety of new research initiatives at Berkeley, from the Blum Center for Developing Economies to the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.
The Chancellor has aimed high in his efforts to make UC Berkeley a truly global force in higher education and research, but he also has managed to preserve its historic standing in California as a beacon of hope and opportunity for all prospective students. That more Pell Grant-eligible students from low income families attend UC Berkeley than the entire Ivy League combined testifies to his vision of the university as a vital agent of transformation.
Chancellor Birgeneau also has stood out as an administrative innovator. Many of the business practices he brought to the table have come to benefit, not just Berkeley, but the entire 10-campus UC system. He oversaw the largest fundraising campaign in UC Berkeley’s history; by placing heightened focus on philanthropic support for faculty positions and graduate fellowships, he united donors around the university’s mission of maintaining and even enhancing its peerless academic quality.
On a personal note, I have come to rely on Bob as a trusted confidante and friend. In that vein, I am delighted that Bob will be remaining on campus as a faculty member in Physics and Material Sciences and Engineering. I wish him and Mary Catherine the very best as they embark on this next phase of their lives.