UC-Berkeley Chief Will Lead New Effort to Assist Public Colleges

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that Robert J. Birgeneau would lead a new project that seeks to help public colleges at a time of declining tax support and escalating costs. Mr. Birgeneau will join the effort in June, when he steps down as chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley. The effort is called the Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education, in honor of the president who in 1862 signed legislation that created the system of land-grant colleges.

Birgeneau, who is 70 and has led UC Berkeley since 2004, said he wanted to help develop “workable plans that will help reverse the progressive disinvestment we have seen in public higher education across the country.”

He said that will not occur by just urging more state funding but will need a wider range of government and private supporters. “The long-term civic and economic welfare of the country depends heavily on a robust public higher education system,” Birgeneau said in an interview, adding that it is too soon to discuss specific goals or plans.

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