Aerial view of UC Berkeley

About Former Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau

Robert Birgeneau

   (Peg Skorpinski photo)


An internationally distinguished physicist, Robert J. Birgeneau is a leader in higher education, known for his commitment to diversity and equity in the academic community. He became the ninth chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, on September 22, 2004, and served in that capacity for nearly nine years. As Berkeley’s chancellor he successfully advanced his vision of access and excellence until he stepped down at the end of May 2013.

Before coming to Berkeley, Birgeneau served as president of the University of Toronto for four years. He previously spent 25 years as a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also served as Dean of the School of Science. He is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and other scholarly organizations. He has received numerous awards for teaching and research, which focused on the fundamental properties of materials.

Robert J. Birgeneau remains on the Berkeley campus as a faculty member in the Departments of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering. Birgeneau is also the leader of the Lincoln Project, an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences advocating for the importance of public colleges and universities and devising strategies to reverse the progressive disinvestment in public higher education by government.