Illustration by Maren Slobody

The University of California Board of Regents recently approved two new chancellors for UC Berkeley and UC Riverside: Nicholas B. Dirks and Jane Close Conoley respectively.

The appointments were confirmed on Nov. 27 at the Office of the President’s Oakland headquarters. Dirks, the executive vice president and dean of the faculty for Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, was selected as Berkeley’s tenth chancellor by UC President Mark Yudof after a six-month search.

“Nicholas Dirks is a humanist with an invaluable mix of scholarship, fundraising experience and administrative expertise,” Yudof said. “I am confident he is the right leader at the right time for UC Berkeley.”

Dirks will succeed the current chancellor, Robert J. Birgeneau, on June 1, 2013. He does not, however, feel anxious or overwhelmed in transitioning from a private university to the University of California.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity at a truly great institution of higher learning that is both a beacon of excellence and a powerful engine of opportunity,” Dirks said.

Although Dirks will not officially begin his service until next summer, Conoley, dean of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, will begin her appointment on Dec. 31, the day after Timothy White, UCR’s current chancellor, leaves to be the new chancellor for the California State University system.

Yudof is just as confident in the decision to appoint Conoley for Riverside as he was in the regents’ decision to appoint Dirks for Berkeley.

“Jane Conoley has long been a nationally recognized education expert, and she is a treasured member of the UC community,” Yudof said. “I am confident that the Riverside campus will keep moving forward on several fronts, especially student success.”

The regents approved an annual salary of $486,800 for Dirks and an annual salary of $245,600 for Conoley.

Ten percent of Dirks’ salary will come from private donors and 90 percent will be funded by the state and other sources. Dirks and Conoley, like the current UCB and UCR chancellors, will receive annually an auto allowance of $8,916 and will have a house on campus that will be paid for with non-state funds.

Conoley’s salary will also be funded by the state and by other private sources. Conoley’s new salary will be distributed immediately because she will spend most of December transitioning from Santa Barbara to Riverside in order to begin her appointment on Dec. 31.

There are significant differences between Dirk’s and Conoley’s recently approved salaries from the current salaries of chancellors Birgeneau and White.

Dirks will be paid $50,000 more in his annual salary than Birgeneau, who receives $436,800. Conoley will be paid $79,400 less than White, who receives $325,000.

Although the majority of the UC Board of Regents approved Dirks’ overall compensation, Gov. Jerry Brown, who also sits on the board, voted against Dirks’ allocated salary.

Brown emphasized the need for sacrifices to be made among the university’s administrative leaders in the current climate of budget cuts and increased student tuition.

“The $50,000 increase above the incumbent [chancellor] … does not fit within the spirit of servant leadership that I think will be required over the next several years,” said Brown during a telephone meeting with the regents, according to The Sacramento Bee’s “Capitol Alert” blog.

Brown added that as governor he would continue to be an advocate for “greater efficiency, greater elegance [and] modesty” within the UC.

Other government officials besides Brown are attempting to take a stand against such salaries like Dirks’.

According to the “Capitol Alert,” State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said that he plans to re-introduce a bill that would prohibit pay increases like Dirks’ at the UC specifically under a tight state budget and in a time of a sharp increase in student fees.

“UC and CSU are public institutions designed to serve California’s students and not to be a cash cow for wealthy executives,” said Yee in a statement. “I am committed to passing legislation to stop these egregious compensation practices and restore the public trust.”