Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California; Fiona Doyle, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division; and Joe Charbonnet, Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Engineering and 2018 UC Grad Slam Champion.

Beginning July 1, 2019, Fiona Doyle, accomplished engineer, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, Dean of the Graduate Division, and the Donald H. McLaughlin Professor of Mineral Engineering, will retire from the University of California, Berkeley.

With over 35 years on campus, Fiona has been an advocate for generations of scholars, from her time as a faculty member, to her service as Executive Associate Dean in the College of Engineering, to her term as Dean of the Graduate Division, where she has been the champion for the 11,000+ graduate students at Berkeley.

With the success and well-being of Berkeley’s graduate students as her central priority, in 2015 Fiona spearheaded the creation of an ambitious fellowship funding pool — the Berkeley Endowment to Attract and Retain Graduate Students (BEAR GradS) — which increased the amount of fellowship money available for promising graduate students by $10 million.

“Education opened up a whole world of opportunities for me as a first-generation college student. My greatest privilege at Berkeley has been to help provide similar opportunities for our own students, particularly the disadvantaged and underrepresented. Of all that I have been able to accomplish, this has been the most rewarding,” Fiona explains.

Fiona Doyle with Yanwei Lum, a recent graduate advisee.

Over the past several years, she has enhanced the Graduate Professional Development program, which helps students prepare for a range of careers after they finish their degrees. She has also initiated numerous operational improvements in Graduate Student Services, as well as worked to ensure that the campus’s Student Information Systems will meet the needs of the large and varied graduate and professional student community.

Aside from her campuswide administrative service, which also includes a term as the Chair of the Academic Senate, Fiona has had a long and illustrious career within the College of Engineering, which she joined as only its third female faculty member in 1983.

As Executive Associate Dean in the College of Engineering, she represented undergraduate students and helped lead a major turnaround in academic support and advising for them, an effort that led to the creation of Engineering Student Services (ESS). Since the creation of that office, there has been a marked increase in student satisfaction as measured by engineering undergraduate surveys. She also served as the Chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Fiona’s research focuses on solution chemistry and electrochemistry in the processing and behavior of minerals, materials, and wastes. She recognized early the importance of sustainability in her field and developed techniques to improve the environmental impacts associated with the production, manufacture and recycling of engineering materials.

When she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering — one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer in the United States — she was cited for her contributions to environmentally benign techniques to separate metals from their ores using solutions, as well as for her leadership in engineering education.

Fiona with graduate students at the Celebration of Distinguished Fellows.
Fiona with graduate students at the Celebration of Distinguished Fellows.

Fiona has served as a mentor to 43 engineering graduate students, but perhaps this story from a former transfer student best encapsulates her impact as an educator. “It was my first semester on campus and I was a bit overwhelmed. After studying like a fiend, I flunked my first exam and went, head in hand, to the professor with a request to withdraw from the class as I hadn’t realized there was a prerequisite I needed to take before-hand. The professor listened carefully and then said that there was a graduate student who might be a helpful tutor so that I could catch up and complete the class. I finished with a B.

That professor was Fiona and because of her extra help and belief in my abilities, I gained the confidence that semester that I needed to master the intense learning curve that being a transfer student can bring. I set my goals towards a graduate degree and succeeded. She is the reason I’m a successful engineer today.”

Rafting down down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
Rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

An avid hiker, traveler, and outdoor adventurer, Fiona will remain as active in retirement as she has been during the time she has devoted to the campus.

We are grateful to Fiona for her long record of distinguished service to the Berkeley campus, as well as for the tremendous support and sage advice she has provided over the course of our time together. We wish her the very best in retirement.