Photo courtesy Robert Birgeneau
Robert Birgeneau was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1942, and earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University. After working at AT&T Bell Laboratories for several years, he served as a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a physics professor for twenty-five years. In 2000, he was appointed to president of the University of Toronto, and just four years later he was named Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. Entering this position just as the state of California was beginning to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the University of California’s budget, Birgeneau fought successfully to preserve Berkeley’s position as one of the world’s top-tier universities. Among his other major initiatives was adopting the school’s 2011 “Middle Class Access Plan,” aimed at keeping tuition affordable for middle-class families.