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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Analysis of Birgeneau Speculation
The Canadian newspapers have begun to pick up on the possible move of University of Toronto President Robert Birgeneau to UC Berkeley. However, even their stories show that they really don't know jack about the situation, and that this is all weak speculation at best.
From the Toronto Star:
"'Bob loves Berkeley,' said a long-time colleague yesterday upon learning this week that Birgeneau is on a short list to become chancellor of Berkeley, with its rumoured salary of more than $600,000 (Canadian) a year, compared with his current salary of $427,000."
It is likely that Birgeneau was, at least at one point, on the short list for the job. Birgeneau is a good friend of UC President Dynes, and probably was connected to the process through that. But according to all reports, Birgeneau has not been made an offer for the position. And, he probably won't ever be made an offer. On top of that, Birgeneau is not compatible with Berkeley, especially its biggest problem. Again, from the Star:
"Some at the university complain that Birgeneau's own physics lab work into electrical conductivity has limited his efforts on the business side of the top job, including fundraising. But others note he has been a vocal champion of government funding for universities."
That's great… if you work in a socialist country, such as Canada. Taking this approach here will be like ramming into a brick wall, especially considering the budget deal already worked out by the UC system and the governor’s office. Our new chancellor needs to be able to fundraise both publicly and privately, and Birgeneau has not established that he has this skill.
On top of the fundraising issue, Birgeneau is not prepared to make a jump from U of Toronto to Berkeley – heck, the two schools aren’t even in the same ballpark. And, if UC Berkeley decides to give Birgeneau the job, it will be a PR disaster. He is not a very qualified candidate for the position, and not the knight in shining armor that the Berkeley administration needs after the delays in this selection debacle.
While Birgeneau has been on CalStuff's short list of likely chancellors, there are other names higher than his on the list, and it is not probable that he will be in Berkeley for the fall. Expect a bigger name from a bigger university to get the job – and candidates with these traits are still out there, and on the short list.
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