Robert Birgeneau will step down from his position as chancellor of UC Berkeley at the end of 2012 after eight years leading the prestigious public university through a troubled time for the state's higher education system.
Birgeneau, 69, will remain at the university to teach and conduct research, he announced today.
Birgeneau, who was a physicist before he became an administrator, grabbled with massive cuts in state funding and regular increases in tuition; star professors fled to competing universitie; and during his tenure more students found they couldn't afford a Cal education.
A number of campus protests, including some that were violent, attracted national headlines, including a two-year tree sit in which protesters tried until 2008 to block the construction of a student athletic center. That center and a newly refurbished Memorial Stadium are expected to open this fall.
The university also celebrated several accomplishments during his tenure. During that time, three Berkeley professors won Nobel prizes for work done over much of their lifetime.
In 2008, Birgeneau launched the largest fundraising effort in the school's history, a $3 billion campaign that so far has raised $2.4 billion.
He also led an effort to make Berkeley the nation's first public campus to offer a discount to middle-class students who don't otherwise qualify for financial aid.
"Although challenges still remain, I am confident that we have put into place a clear pathway for the years ahead and strategies that will support Berkeley's ongoing excellence and its impact on the world," Birgeneau wrote in a letter announcing his resignation.