UC Berkeley physics professor Bob Jacobsen will serve a one-year term as the interim dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Letters and Science starting July 1.
Jacobsen is one of the associate deans of L&S Advising, a staff of advisers tasked with helping undergraduate students make choices regarding their academic career. Prior to this, Jacobsen held various roles at UC Berkeley including chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate from 2011-12.
His predecessor and campus history professor Tyler Stovall, who has worked closely with Jacobsen during his tenure, said Jacobsen’s experiences make him the “perfect candidate” for the position.
“There is no professor on this campus that knows more about undergraduate advising than (Jacobsen),” Stovall said.
Jacobsen’s new position will be changed from dean of undergraduate division in L&S to dean of undergraduate studies in L&S to align with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ initiative to put more emphasis on undergraduate education. But it is still unclear as to exactly how this shift will play out, Stovall said.
In his new role, Jacobsen will continue the work of Stovall, who held the position for the past six years. Stovall organized the first systematic review process of major programs of the undergraduate and interdisciplinary studies and international area studies. This review process is done in conjunction with the L&S Executive Committee.
Additionally, Stovall oversaw the expansion of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships as well as the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, which grew from 900 to 1,300 participants, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele said in a campuswide announcement.
Stovall said he felt it was time to step down from this position and will now focus on his writing and research.
Jacobsen hopes to focus on freshmen and sophomore within L&S, particularly those who are undeclared. Incoming freshman admits for next fall are now able to be undeclared within a field — a new feature that aims to better assign students to an adviser once they get on campus, according to Jacobsen.
“This isn’t enough information to fully start a conversation about their academic careers,” Jacobsen said. “But even a hint is progress.”
Additionally, Jacobsen will continue his work with Cal Student Orientation in hopes of incorporating more extensive academic advising during the orientation. Incoming freshmen are often confused about which classes to enroll in, and advising earlier on will help alleviate the stress, he said.
“Most Berkeley students try to do the most possible; some even want to change the world,” Jacobsen said. “We should get them help, so they can do what they want to do.”