Andrew Szeri
Andrew Szeri

Dear Graduate Students,

Earlier this month, Chancellor Dirks and Provost Steele announced several organizational changes in the campus’ senior administration to take place July 1. In order to assume new responsibilities, I will step down from my role as Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division at the end of June.

While a search is conducted in the fall for a new appointment, Rosemary Joyce — Professor of Anthropology, and Associate Dean since 2011 — will step up as Interim Dean of the Graduate Division. Susan Muller — Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Associate Dean since 2013 as well as 2007-10 — will continue in her present role. I am confident that stewardship of Berkeley’s graduate students and programs will be in superb hands on their watch.

Since serving on the Academic Senate’s Graduate Council in 2001-2005 and 2007-2014 (including 2003-2005 as Chair), then in 2005-2007 as an Associate Dean of the Graduate Division, and since 2007 as the Dean and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, it has been my privilege to help lead Berkeley’s efforts to support the ambitions of more than 10,000 graduate students and to help enable the world-class excellence of 100-plus programs.

Despite a fiscally lean environment, the Graduate Division has accomplished important advances, including:

  • Leading major initiatives on mentoring, with the establishment of guidelines for students and faculty, with new awards for faculty mentoring of graduate students, and with advice to the administration and Senate about how to assess graduate student mentoring in faculty merit reviews.
  • Increasing graduate students’ average financial support. In the recently-concluded Campaign for Berkeley, campuswide we raised $253 million from alumni, faculty, and friends to nearly double the number of endowments for graduate fellowships.
  • Streamlining Graduate Division operations while improving services to students and their departments.
  • Significantly improving electronic systems for application for graduate study and for graduate program administration.
  • Enabling access to more robust data to inform programmatic improvements.
  • Supporting ways and means that lead to an increasingly diversified student population, with big increases in the numbers of doctoral degree recipients from communities underrepresented in the academy.
  • Expanding grants and other programs for student parents.
  • Helping to significantly improve availability and scope of student health and mental health care.
  • Strengthening our award-winning teaching instruction programs and innovative graduate/undergraduate mentoring initiatives.
  • Laying the groundwork for expanded services to enable professional skills development for students bound for various career paths.
  • Establishing a considerable number of innovative new graduate degree programs and carefully reviewing pre-existing ones to ensure quality.

As graduate alumni I’ve met throughout the world attest, Berkeley ranks second to none in its breadth, depth, and reach of scholarship, research, and public service — in its impact in California, the U.S., and around the globe. I have been continually inspired and engaged by the brilliance and passion of our diverse doctoral and master’s student populations. I will miss interacting directly with many of you through meetings with Graduate Assembly officers and delegates, receptions and discussions with winners of awards and fellowship recipients, joint advocacy efforts at the State Legislature, and more. But I’m excited by anticipation of new opportunities to advance our common cause in my new role as Vice Provost, Strategic Academic and Facilities Planning.

Thank you for your part in making graduate education at UC Berkeley the incomparable experience that we are fortunate to share. I wish you the very best in the years to come.

With warm regards,

Andrew Szeri signature

Andrew J. Szeri
Professor of Mechanical Engineering