Dean's Desk, Fall 1999

by Alexis T. Bell, Dean

n July 31, I stepped down as Dean and turned over my responsibilities to Professor of Chemistry Clayton Heathcock. I consider it both a privilege and a pleasure to have served as Dean of the College for the past five years. This has been a particularly challenging period, during which we completed the construction of Tan Kah Kee Hall, substantially renovated a number of laboratories in the College's older buildings, recruited and retained a significant number of outstanding faculty members, initiated the creation of four new Centers (see associated story on page eight), and improved undergraduate education.

Through the first three years of this period, the University and the College endured a very significant decrease in state support, and consequently a decrease in base budget. I am extremely pleased to say that the College accommodated these fiscal limitations by finding ways to become more efficient. The net result is that the College has maintained its position as the premier place for teaching and research in chemistry and chemical engineering. In the last issue of the News Journal, I reported that the University had received $42 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for seismic strengthening of four buildings on the Berkeley campus. Of this total, $26 million has been targeted for Hildebrand and Latimer Halls. We are expecting to receive an additional $9 million for this purpose from the State and approximately $10 million from the campus.


Dean Bell with Chancellor Berdahl and Executive Vice Chancellor Carol Christ addressing College faculty about the upcoming seismic renovations.


During the past ten months, Clayton Heathcock, working in close collaboration with College Engineer Alex Shtromberg, has developed a master plan for executing these renovations without the need to relocate any faculty or research groups outside the College. The campus has accepted the College's plan and work has begun this summer on its first phase. Since the top four floors of Hildebrand must be decanted to carry out the seismic strengthening of this part of the building, the teaching laboratories are being moved to Latimer Hall and most of the research laboratories are being moved to Lewis Hall.


Undergraduate labs in Latimer Hall were renovated over the summer to modernize undergraduate education and accommodate moves necessitated by seismic strengthening.


The offices of the theoretical chemists, located in Hildebrand Hall, and the space occupied by their co-workers, located in Lewis Hall, are being moved to Gilman Hall. In fact, the need to move the efforts in theoretical chemistry has created the opportunity to create a Center for Theoretical Chemistry (which is also highlighted in the feature story on page eight). The family of the late Professor Kenneth S. Pitzer is providing a very generous lead gift to fund the Center.


Bell pointing out some of the many changes that seismic retrofitting will require to Latimer and Hildebrand Halls.


The synthesis, characterization, and development of new materials are becoming an increasingly important part of the research agenda for many College faculty, as well as many others in other departments. This spring, in an effort to strengthen these efforts and develop a campus-wide perspective, Chancellor Berdahl appointed a Chancellor's Advisory Council on Materials Sciences and Engineering. Representing the College on the Council are Paul Alivisatos (Chair) and Arup Chakraborty; other members include Tim Sands and Ron Gronsky from Materials Science and Mineral Engineering, and Daniel Chemla and Alex Zettl representing Physics. Paul Gray, Dean of the College of Engineering, Buford Price, Dean of Physical Sciences in the College of Letters and Sciences, and Chemistry Dean Clayton Heathcock serve on the Committee ex officio. The objectives of this group are to identify campus strengths and capabilities in materials sciences and engineering, and to assess these relative to the best materials programs in other parts of the United States and the world. The committee has also been asked to advise the Chancellor on new searches for faculty with teaching and research expertise in the areas of materials sciences and engineering.


Members of the Dean's office and other college staff at his office farewell party in July.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the College's alumni and friends for their sustained support throughout the past five years. The contributions you have made to the College and its departments have enabled us to attract and retain an outstanding faculty and student body. And most important, the intellectual vitality of the College has been sustained.