Dirks is a celebrated anthropology professor who left UMichigan for Columbia in 1997 to overhaul our anthropology department. A few years later, Prezbo arrived at Columbia from UMichigan and asked Dirks to join the administration, becoming Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. As Dean of FAS, Dirks served as the head of the faculties of the College, GS, GSAS, the School of the Arts, School of Continuing Ed, and SIPA, and he played a central role in the drama surrounding the McKinsey report, Moodygate, and faculty benefits. He also taught a CC section.
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
Today, after serving for more than eight years as Columbia’s Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Nicholas B. Dirks is announcing that he is stepping down to prepare to become the tenth chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. This, of course, is a major role in American higher education, especially at this moment, and while we will miss Nick deeply and are extremely grateful for all he has done for Columbia, we also take great pride in his appointment.
Nick came to the Morningside campus in 1997 to chair and rebuild the University’s illustrious department of anthropology. As the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History, he admirably preserved the distinguished legacy of Boas through his own scholarship on British colonialism, the history of imperialism, and cultural theory. Columbia students honored Professor Dirks with the 2002 Lionel Trilling Award for his book, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. Among his many honors, Nick has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and MacArthur Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and he is a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Nick served as Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences during a pivotal period of Columbia’s history. With responsibility for six of Columbia’s schools, 29 departments, and 27 institutes and centers, Nick was centrally important to sustaining and improving our academic excellence, building and expanding interdisciplinary programs, improving our capacity to be a diverse community, expanding our sources of revenue, and all the while being a friend of us all.
In the next few weeks, I will announce a search committee to identify the next Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences, a process which should be completed by the end of the academic year. In the interim, I am asking the Provost, John Coatsworth, to take up the responsibilities of that office, working closely with the relevant administrators and especially the Policy and Planning Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
On behalf of the University, I am happy to thank and congratulate Nick Dirks for his many lasting contributions to Columbia and to wish him the very best on those he will soon make as the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
Lee C. Bollinger