UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Russia scholar George Breslauer named chief academic officer, UC Berkeley's second highest post

– George W. Breslauer, a political science professor and Russia specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, will be the campus's next executive vice chancellor and provost, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau announced today (Wednesday, March 15).

George Breslauer
George W. Breslauer (Peg Skorpinski photo)

As the campus's chief academic officer and the chancellor's second-in-command, Breslauer will serve as Birgeneau's leading senior executive responsible for day-to-day campus operations. He succeeds Paul R. Gray, who will step down June 30 after six years in the position and return to the faculty.

"George Breslauer is uniquely well qualified for the position. He has a deep knowledge and understanding of the Berkeley campus, a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching, research and service and impressive skills as an experienced administrator," said Birgeneau. "In the coming years, our campus faces both wonderful opportunities and significant challenges in maintaining and indeed enhancing its role in California, the nation and the world. I look forward to working with George in addressing the many opportunities and challenges ahead."

Breslauer, 60, has been on the UC Berkeley faculty for 35 years. He directed the Center for Slavic and East European Studies for 10 years, chaired the political science department for three years, was dean of social sciences in the College of Letters & Science for seven years, and was appointed last August as the executive dean of the College of Letters & Science. The college is the campus's largest academic unit, enrolling three-quarters of all UC Berkeley undergraduates and half the students pursuing Ph.Ds, and encompassing more than half the faculty.

Breslauer will report directly to the chancellor and work closely with him to develop the campus's vision and priorities. He also will help the chancellor oversee the $1.3 billion operating budget for the campus. As chief academic officer for UC Berkeley, his portfolio will include the campus's 15 colleges and schools. He will directly oversee a total budget of $500 million and close to 5,000 full time employees.

"It's a thrill and an honor to have this opportunity to serve at the highest levels and to have the greatest and broadest impact at a turning point in our history," said Breslauer. "We will continue to demonstrate that, financial problems notwithstanding, Berkeley can go toe-to-toe with the leading private universities."

Breslauer said his new job will be an "exciting challenge" that is four-pronged: maintaining the excellence of the undergraduates, the graduate students, the staff and the faculty.

He said he will help the campus maintain access for students from low-income families — one-third of current undergraduates come from households earning less than $35,000 a year — and continue recruiting top graduate students. He said he also will work to recruit and retain excellent faculty members and to expand hiring into new areas of research.

"You don't maintain excellence by defending old forts, you maintain excellence by seizing positions in new territories, and that is what we are doing with our strategic initiatives — identifying areas that are likely to be up-and-coming in order to stay ahead of the intellectual innovation curve," he said.

As examples among many, he points to initiatives in areas such as nanotechnology and computational biology, a new collaboration between the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and the Haas School of Business, and the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative, which will focus on multi-cultural societies and what makes them successful.

Also a priority, said Breslauer, is the staff and "developing their talents and rewarding them appropriately."

He added that enhancing the diversity of the student body, the staff and the faculty is another challenge he welcomes. "There is much we can do within the limits defined by state law," he said.

In addition to leading the academic enterprise, Breslauer will be responsible for ensuring high-level executive coordination of the "small city" that is UC Berkeley and for playing a role in fundraising and alumni relations.

The University of California Board of Regents today formally approved Breslauer's compensation package, which consists of a $285,000 base salary, a yearly auto allowance of $8,916 and an annual research fund of $30,000, plus standard executive pension and health benefits.

Breslauer, a native of New York City, received his A.B., A. M. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, joining the UC Berkeley political science faculty in 1971 while completing his Ph.D. thesis. He specialized in studies of Soviet leaders and, after 1991, leadership in the new Russia. He has written or edited 12 books. His latest, "Gorbachev and Yeltsin as Leaders" (2002), examined the role of leadership in the fall of Soviet communism and in Russia's tumultuous efforts during the 1990s to build an alternative political and economic system.

Among Breslauer's awards are the Distinguished Teaching Award of the campus's Social Sciences Division in 1997 and a Chancellor's Professorship from 1998 to 2001 for his contributions in teaching, research and service. He currently is editor-in-chief of the quarterly publication "Post-Soviet Affairs."

He lives in Oakland with his wife, Yvette Assia Breslauer. Their son, David, is a UC Berkeley graduate student, and daughter, Michelle, recently received a master's degree in urban affairs from the London School of Economics and lives in New York City.