College of Letters and Science appoints new associate dean

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2012

The former chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate began his term this fall in a newly created associate dean position in the campus College of Letters and Science as part of an initiative begun by the college in 2010 to analyze the effectiveness of its undergraduate education.

As the college’s first associate executive dean for educational initiatives, Bob Jacobsen will lead an effort to reevaluate the college’s breadth requirements and develop a set of courses taught by groups of professors from different disciplines to broaden the undergraduate curriculum, said Mark Richards, the executive dean of the College of Letters and Science.

“At a campus this large and complex, things don’t usually happen quickly,” Richards said. “But when things happen, it’s because someone is steadfastly trying to get the ball rolling.”

Richards added that Jacobsen was chosen for the position largely because of his experience as a liaison between campus faculty and administrators last year.

Jacobsen said he found out about the position over the summer and is currently working on getting various committees to coordinate their activities. He said that his experience teaching physics to a pre-med class a couple years ago convinced him that different people learn in different ways and got him interested in the sort of initiative he is now helping lead.

“The idea is that we have a lot of people who want to do things to improve undergraduate education,” Jacobsen said. “Right now, there are a lot of people who really want to do a better job. We have to find smarter ways of doing better.”

Jacobsen joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1995 after earning a doctorate from Stanford University. When asked about teaching at its rival, he joked he “got smarter as he got older.”

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SEPTEMBER 17, 2012