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Nicholas Dirks

Nicholas B. Dirks

President and Chief Executive Officer

The New York Academy of Sciences

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.

Dirks received his B.A. from Wesleyan University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has published four major books, edited three others, and written numerous essays and articles. He has held prestigious fellowships and scholarships and received several scholarly honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Foundation residential fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the Lionel Trilling Award for his book, Castes of Mind. His newest book, City of Intellect: The Uses and Abuses of the University, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2023. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has served on numerous national and international bodies while receiving honorary degrees in Beijing, China, and Madras, India. He is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.