Robert M. Berdahl


Robert M. Berdahl became president of the Association of American Universities (AAU) in May 2006. Prior to this position, Berdahl served as chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley from 1997 to 2004. As chancellor at Berkeley, he led the campus in a major effort to renew its infrastructure. During his tenure, more than $800 million was invested in a comprehensive plan to renovate and seismically upgrade numerous buildings, rendering them more suitable for modern scientific research and teaching. He worked to restore library collections to a preeminent position and undertook the construction of two new library buildings. Under his leadership, two new major interdisciplinary initiatives were undertaken: the Health
Sciences Initiative and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of
An advocate of enhancing and humanizing undergraduate learning, Berdahl expanded the highly popular Freshman Seminar Program, in which senior faculty teach small freshman classes. To integrate student life more fully with a challenging academic environment, six new residence halls were constructed. As the first Berkeley chancellor to cope with the decline of minority enrollment after the elimination of affirmative action in California, Berdahl strengthened campus outreach programs for disadvantaged students in the public schools.

Following his tenure as chancellor at Berkeley, Berdahl remained as a faculty member. Prior to going to Berkeley, Berdahl served as president of The University of Texas at Austin from 1993 to 1997. While at Texas, he initiated a master plan for the physical development of the campus, worked to introduce data-driven planning in the allocation of resources to the academic colleges and schools, and endeavored to build a stronger sense of community within a large, diverse campus. While at The University of Texas and at Berkeley, Berdahl was an active member of AAU, including service as its executive committee chair. Berdahl began his academic career in the history department at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1965. He joined the history faculty at the University of Oregon in 1967 and served as Oregon’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1981 to 1986, when he left Oregon to become Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Berdahl received his B.A. from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, his M.A. from the

University of Illinois, and his Ph.D from the University of Minnesota, which also awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Science in 1997. He is recipient of numerous honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate and distinguished alumnus award from Augustana College, a Fulbright Research Fellowship, and an NEH Independent Study and Research Fellowship. He has been a Research Associate at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the Max Planck Institute for History in Goettingen, Germany. Berdahl was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. He is the author of one book and the coauthor of another, and has written numerous articles dealing with German history.


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