Berkeley Welcomes Berdahl

University of Texas President Will Become Chancellor on July 1

by Fernando Quintero
March 6, 1997

Dear Colleagues
And Friends of Cal:

I am delighted that Robert M. Berdahl has been named today by the Board of Regents as the next chancellor of the Berkeley campus effective July 1, 1997.

I know you will join me in welcoming Bob as our next chancellor.

I have known and worked with Bob for several years and have great respect for him. He is a nationally recognized leader in higher education. He brings a wealth of experience from his tenure at four major public universities. The recent challenges he faced at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Texas at Austin amply prepare him to lead Berkeley. His commitment to academic excellence, undergraduate education and diversity resonates well with our own campus goals. His calm and engaging personality will make him an effective fund raiser and a wonderful ambassador for Cal throughout the world as we move into the next century.

I look forward to working closely with Bob during this transition in leadership. I know all of you will be solidly behind him as we begin a new chapter in Cal's history.

Chang-Lin Tien

Robert Max Berdahl
Curriculum Vitae

Born in Sioux Falls, S..D., March 15, 1937
Married to Margaret "Peg" Berdahl
Children: Daphne, Jennifer, Barbara

PhD, University of Minnesota, 1965
(Thesis Adviser: Otto Pflanze)
MA, University of Illinois, 1961
BA, Augustana College, 1959

University of Texas at Austin 1993 to present, President
Regents Chair in Higher Education Leadership
Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History (1996-present)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1986-93, Vice Chancellorfor Academic Affairs
1986-93, Professor of History

University of Oregon
1981-86, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
1981-86, Professor of History
1980 (summer), Acting Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
1977-80, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
1972-81, Associate Professor of History
1967-72, Assistant Professor of History

University of Massachusetts, Boston 1965-67, Assistant Professor of History

Awards, Honors and Fellowships
American Philosophical Society Fellowship, summer 1969
Summer Research Fellowship, Oregon, summer 1969
Research Associate, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1972-73
Fulbright Research Fellowship, Germany, 1975-76
National Endowment for the Humanities Independent Study and Research Fellowship, 1976-77
Research Stipend, Max-Planck-Institut f¸r Geschichte, G–ttingen, summers 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984
Who's Who in America, 1983-present
1993 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Augustana College
Golden Key National Honor Society, Honorary Member
Huntington Art Gallery Annual Award for Community Outreach, 1994
University of Texas Parent's Association Award of Distinction, 1996
Citation of Honor, Texas Society of Architects, 1996

Membership on Boards
And Commissions

Austin Area Research Organization-1993 to present
Houston Advanced Research Center-1993 to present
American Council on Education Commission on Women in Higher Education, 1995 to present
Boys and Girls Club of Austin and Travis County-1996 to present
The Big 12 Conference, 1996 to present
The Center for Study of Hemispheric Trade, 1996 to present
United Way Capitol Area, 1996 to present

The next chancellor of Berkeley brings a solid record of achievement in academic excellence and diversity -- the qualities that came to be known as Chancellor Tien's trademark.

Robert M. Berdahl, president of the University of Texas in Austin who has been a strong supporter of affirmative action and quality undergraduate education, was unanimously approved March 6 as the campus's new chancellor by the Board of Regents.

His appointment becomes effective July 1.

"I'm humbled and honored to have been extended the opportunity to lead the flagship public university of the United States," said Berdahl at a telephone press conference Thursday at the Office of the President in Oakland.

"I am very conscious of the quality of leadership Berkeley has received under Chancellor Tien. He will be a hard act to follow."

Berdahl, who turns 60 March 15, has been university president at Austin since 1993 and holds the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in history there. He is a former vice chancellor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his specialty is 19th century Prussian history. He earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota and grew up in South Dakota.

His father, Melvin Berdahl, attended Berkeley 75 years ago, studying economics for one year in graduate school. His father's classmate at South Dakota and at Berkeley was Ernest O. Lawrence.

Berdahl is married to Margaret "Peg" Berdahl and they have three married daughters, Daphne, Jennifer and Barbara, who was married just two days after the appointment was announced.

President Richard Atkinson said Berdahl and Albert Carnesale, Harvard University provost who was named chancellor of UCLA (see UCLA), were his top picks because of their national reputations.

"They are two remarkable individuals known throughout the country for leadership in higher education," said Atkinson.

"They are outstanding scholars, good with students and effective fund raisers. They are individuals with multiple strengths."

Both new chancellors will earn $222,700 annually, the same provided currently for the positions.

Chancellor Tien said Berdahl's "commitment to academic excellence, undergraduate education and diversity resonates well with our campus goals.

"His calm and engaging personality will make him an effective fund raiser and a wonderful ambassador for Cal throughout the world as we move into the next century." Berdahl acknowledged the inevitable comparisons to Chancellor Tien.

"Following Tien is a big challenge. He has been an inspiration to us all," he said.

"I'm different. I'm my own person. The best thing I can do is to be myself and stand for things I believe are important: To build the premiere institution in the United States."

Berdahl's advice to his own successor offered a hint of the new Berkeley chancellor's personal management style: "Trust the faculty. People are empowered to take risks and participate fully in the development of the institution." he said. "This is a value I think is important and something I will bring to Berkeley."

At the March 6 press conference, Berdahl showed optimistic enthusiasm over his appointment, saying that the issues of concern that awaited him were familiar ones.

"Look at the level of funding (for UC) compared to other states," said Berdahl.

"California has not been unique in facing financial difficulties. Yet Berkeley emerged as a strong entity."

Berdahl added that the debate over affirmative action is "not unique to California either."

Last year, Berdahl argued in court to save his law school's affirmative action policy following the Hopwood case, a federal appeals court ruling that banned racial consideration in admissions.

"In Texas, the Hopwood case has forced us to reconsider how to achieve diversity.

"Universities across the country are going to have to face this issue in the future," said Berdahl.

"There are no easy solutions. The answer has to be in working more closely with the public education system to ensure we are helping those schools prepare students to attend college."

Berdahl added that admissions programs should consider "drive, ambition and determination in overcoming adversity."

Following the announcement of Berdahl's appointment, Regent Stephen Nakashima praised Atkinson's decision. "I think he's going to be all right," he said. "My primary concern is that he get along with students, that they get to love him like they do Tien."

Charles Bertsch, a Berkeley graduate student who served on the selection committee, said he believes Berdahl will be "well received."

"There may be some resentment that he is not a person of color or a woman. But I think he will break through some of that by making himself accessible to faculty, staff and students."


Copyright 1997, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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