Elizabeth Deakin, a UC Berkeley professor of city and regional planning and urban design, has officially taken on her role as chair of the Berkeley division of the Academic Senate for the 2013-14 school year after serving as vice chair last year.
As vice chair, Deakin oversaw the development of new online degree programs, helped establish appropriate criteria for evaluating professors and promoted research opportunities, particularly for undergraduate students.
“You have to be nimble and ready to take on another issue,” she said of her leadership philosophy. “That’s just part of the job.”
The Academic Senate represents the interests of the faculty to both the campus and the UC system in issues including academic freedom, research and student affairs.
Before serving as vice chair, Deakin was a member of the campus Committee on Academic Planning and Resource Allocation, which provides recommendations to the chancellor about budget and resource allocation.
As chair, Deakin said she will work to increase the involvement of faculty in the senate, among other things.
“We’re trying to get even more people involved in the Academic Senate, so we’re speaking with a clearer voice on behalf of the faculty,” she said.
Above all, Deakin said her main priority is to enhance the overall student experience. Specifically, she hopes to improve the quality of instruction, student health, the availability of research opportunities and the accessibility of study abroad programs.
Andrea Green Rush, executive director of the Berkeley Division Staff, worked with Deakin when she was a member of CAPRA and said Deakin brings a wide breadth of knowledge to her new position.
“(Deakin) is especially well versed on issues at the intersection of the academic mission and the administrative structures supporting it, such as budget and finance, resource allocation and long-range planning,” Rush said.
This breadth of knowledge extends to her academic pursuits. Deakin has studied a variety of subjects during her academic career, including political science, law and engineering. She said she intends to use her diverse educational background to move UC Berkeley in a more interdisciplinary direction.
“Teaching is not just in the classroom but in many other venues,” she said.
Panayiotis Papadopoulos, a UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering and the vice chair of the Academic Senate, emphasized the importance of the chair’s role in advising Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in his first year on campus. Papadopoulos, who was appointed vice chair this year, has known Deakin for three years and said he is looking forward to working with her again.
“(Deakin) understands the complexity of the institution and is passionate about maintaining Berkeley’s excellence,” Papadopoulos said. “(She) is the ideal.”
Shannon Carroll contributed to this report.