Chancellor Dirks Announcement: VCAF Leadership Transition

January 26, 2016

Chancellor Dirks sent the following announcement to the campus community on January 12, 2016 

Dear members of the UC Berkeley community:

I am writing to share that John Wilton, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, has informed me of his decision to step down from his position at UC Berkeley towards the end of February to return to work in the field of investment management and finance. 

I have deeply appreciated John’s expertise, leadership, and dedication to Berkeley’s mission and values. John joined Berkeley in 2011 during a time of significant financial challenge and change as the university experienced a fundamental shift in its financial dynamics.  He worked diligently to implement the reforms and programs that are necessary for developing a strategic framework that promotes financial stability. This ranged from creating a campus-wide financial model that enables Berkeley to provide financial projections and illustrate the impact of different financial scenarios to moving the campus away from incremental budgeting and towards an “all funds” view of our finances.  These innovations provide a clearer line of sight into the strategic trade-offs that are required at both the campus and unit level to move Berkeley towards a more sustainable future.  He played a critical role in our work to increase efficiency and was an early voice in helping the campus think of innovative ways to generate new net revenue.  One of the outcomes of this effort was the University Partnership Program, which was launched under his leadership and is already demonstrating how university-wide strategic partnerships can be structured to increase revenue, engage campus partners, and maximize the benefits to the campus community.

Beyond the operating budget, John made major improvements in how we think about Berkeley’s capital budget and associated operations and maintenance needs. John oversaw a significant transformation in the real estate function, and as a result of his efforts, the campus now has a structure that enables us to consider and prioritize capital investments. He also helped facilitate significant improvements in the operations and management of our HR and IT departments. 

John has also touched many parts of the campus beyond finance and administration.  For example, he managed Intercollegiate Athletics for several years, worked with faculty in the Haas School of Business to revise and implement a new funding model for California Memorial Stadium, and developed an important agreement on field naming rights. John was also an active member of several boards including the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Berkeley Endowment Management Corporation, and the Center for Executive Education.  He was instrumental in the development and implementation of Berkeley’s online strategy, resulting in the creation of the Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education (BRCOE) and our early partnership with MIT and Harvard in creating edX and has been on the board since its inception. Additionally, John has played a central role in thinking about how we might best develop the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay in furthering the global impact of the important work that we all do.

Most importantly, John has emphasized creating a culture of collaboration, candor, and analytical rigor, but always with a sense of humor.  He has worked hard to break down silos, leveraging the expertise of trustees, deans, faculty and staff to ensure Berkeley remains at the center of innovation, growth, discovery, and sustainability.

In the weeks ahead, I will have more to share about how I will organize the important functions in Administration and Finance to ensure that this critical work continues without interruption during these challenging times.  In the meantime, please join me in thanking John for his service to Berkeley and wishing him all the best in his future endeavors.


Nicholas B. Dirks