The next chancellor of UC 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 at Austin who has been a strong supporter of affirmative action and quality undergraduate education, was unanimously approved March 6 as Berkeley'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 at the Office of the President in Oakland just minutes after his appointment.
"I am very conscious of the quality of leadership Berkeley has received under Chancellor Tien. He will be a hard act to follow."
Berdahl, 60, has been president at Austin since 1993 and holds the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in history. 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 daughters, Daphne, Jennifer and Barbara.
President Richard Atkinson said Berdahl and Albert Carnesale, Harvard University provost who was named chancellor of 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.
For a look at Berdahl's curriculum vitae, visit
Berkeley's web site at www.berkeley.edu/news/features/3_6_97b.html.