NICHOLAS B. DIRKS is a widely respected and highly influential historian and anthropologist, and a prominent leader in higher education.
In June 2020, Dirks assumed leadership of the New York Academy of Sciences as President and Chief Executive Officer. Founded in 1817, the New York Academy is among the oldest scientific organizations in the United States. The mission of the Academy is to drive innovative solutions to society’s challenges by advancing scientific research, education, and policy.
In 2012, Dirks was named as the 10th Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley and served in that role until July of 2017. He launched major initiatives in undergraduate education and research collaborations in areas such as neuroscience and genomics. He oversaw the establishment of a new division of Data Science, and led a series of bold global projects including the creation of the Tsinghua Berkeley Shenzhen Institute and a global alliance with Cambridge University, the National University of Singapore, and several other institutions.
Before joining Berkeley, Dirks was the executive vice president for the arts and sciences and dean of the faculty at Columbia University, where he worked to improve and diversify the faculty, putting special emphasis on interdisciplinary and international initiatives. The Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History, Dirks joined Columbia in 1997 as chair of the anthropology department. Prior to his appointment at Columbia, for ten years he was a professor of history and anthropology at the University of Michigan. Before that, he taught Asian history and civilization at the California Institute of Technology.