Robert M. Berdahl received his B.A. degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls in 1959, his M.A. from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1961, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1965. His field of specialization is German history and he is the author of The Politics of the Prussian Nobility (Princeton University Press, 1988), the co-author of another book, and the author of numerous articles dealing with German history and, more recently, about American higher education.
Berdahl served as an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts in Boston from 1965-1967; as assistant, associate, and full professor of history at the University of Oregon from 1967-1986. From 1981-1986, he served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon; from 1986-1993, he served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign; from 1993-1997 he served as President of the University of Texas in Austin; and from 1997-2004, he served as Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
After retiring from Berkeley in 2006, he was appointed President of the Association of American Universities, an association of the 59 leading research universities in the United States and 2 in Canada. He retired from that position in 2011. From December 2011 to August 2012, he served as Interim President of the University of Oregon. He continues to be active as a consultant to universities. He serves on the Board of Directors of ACT. In January 2014, he co-taught a course during the January-Term at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Berdahl has received numerous awards and honors. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Research Grant and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; he was a research associate at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the Max-Planck-Institute for History in Germany. He was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received honorary doctorates from Augustana College, the University of Minnesota, and New York University. He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the University of Oregon. He is the recipient of the Clark Kerr Award for distinguished contributions to higher education by the University of California, Berkeley.
As a Senior Advisor to Academic Analytics, Berdahl provides clients and the company with critical perspective on institutional governance, academic planning, the role of public universities in American higher education. His experience at four top public universities and macro-level view from the Association of American Universities informs the company’s evolving direction and services for clients.