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UC Berkeley Web Feature

Jon Gjerde named permanent social sciences dean

– History professor Jon Gjerde, who has served as an interim dean in the College of Letters and Science for the past year, has been appointed permanent dean of the college's division of social sciences.

Jon Gjerde
Jon Gjerde (Peg Skorpinski photo)

A member of the Berkeley faculty since 1985, Gjerde has a special interest in the history of the Midwest in the 19th and 20th centuries, and is the author of five books, including The Minds of the West: The Ethnocultural Evolution of the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917. Gjerde served as chair of the history department from 2001 to 2004, and he assumed the role of interim dean in July 2006, taking over when then-Dean George Breslauer was named executive vice chancellor and provost.

"The division of social sciences comprises the most distinguished group of social science departments in the country," said Breslauer, who offered a strong endorsement of his successor: "Jon Gjerde is exceptionally qualified to maintain and enhance that preeminence. He is a distinguished scholar, seasoned administrator, and exemplary colleague. The division is in excellent hands."

Added L&S Executive Dean Mark Richards: "As acting dean for the past year Jon has proven to be a thoughtful, wise, and creative voice for the social sciences and the College of Letters and Science. I look forward very much to working with him in the coming years."

Gjerde received his bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and his master's and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the history department at Berkeley he held teaching positions at the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, and the California Institute of Technology. After receiving tenure at Berkeley in 1989 he served as resident director of the Scandinavian Study Center in Lund, Sweden, in 1991-1992.

He has written extensively on immigration and its impacts on America's heartland, both in scholarly articles and in such books as Norwegians in Minnesota (2002) and From Peasants to Farmers: The Migration from Balestrand, Norway to the Upper Middle West (1985). He has received numerous awards for his scholarly research, including three for The Minds of the West, which Indiana University historian James Madison ranked "among the very best studies of ethnicity we have."

Details about compensation for new administrators are available at the UC Regents' salaries and compensation website.