Former professor to serve as interim dean of School of Social Welfare

Sam Davis, a former UC Berkeley professor of architecture, will serve for one year as interim dean of the School of Social Welfare, campus officials announced Monday.

Davis, who taught at UC Berkeley from 1971 until his retirement in 2009, will begin his one-year term on Aug. 1, during which time the campus will search for a full-time dean.

“I’m honored to be asked,” Davis said. “It was totally unexpected. I was in retirement and was happy to be so, and this came out of the blue. It’s a great school, and I’m honored.”

A graduate of the schools of architecture at both UC Berkeley and Yale University, Davis has also served as interim dean and associate dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and as chair of the Department of Architecture.

In a statement from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer to members of the chancellor’s cabinet, Breslauer said Davis’s administrative experience would enable him to serve the school “by drawing upon his knowledge of campus policies and practices, and his familiarity with campus administration.”

Davis said his work in architecture has been primarily for vulnerable populations, such as low-income families and homeless youth.

Thirty-eight years ago, Davis founded his Berkeley-based architecture firm, Sam Davis Architecture, which has designed housing for families, students, seniors, young people with HIV/AIDS and homeless youth and adults.

During an economic recession in the early 1980s, the government began closing down government-sponsored housing for the low-income population, Davis said. It was at that time, he said, that community development groups arose and he began creating affordable housing for families and seniors.

Additionally, Davis said he began working with homeless service providers, such as the Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.

“As that went along, there was another recession, and the homeless became much more of a problem,” he said. “I started doing work for them … and it kind of evolved over time.”

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.