Campus appoints Michael Botchan permanent dean of Division of Biological Sciences

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Michael Botchan has recently been appointed as permanent dean of the Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters and Sciences, according to a campus press release.

Botchan has served as interim dean of the division since July 1, 2016, after G. Steven Martin, professor emeritus of cell and developmental biology and the former dean of the division, stepped down from the role, according to the press release.

Botchan said this is a time of excitement for the life sciences on campus, and said he hopes to focus on teamwork and philanthropy to continue the success of the division.

“I’m going to continue to try to work together with my colleagues and fellow deans in (the College of Letters and Sciences) and around campus to make sure our excellence is maintained,” Botchan said.

Botchan is currently a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Martin said. He also said that Botchan played a vital role in setting up the Innovative Genomics Institute, which was designed to develop and exploit CRISPR technology invented by campus molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna.

In his time as interim dean, Botchan said he had been involved with the recruitment, promotion and retention of division faculty. He had also continued his work with the Innovative Genomics Institute.

Doug Koshland, campus professor of molecular and cell biology, said Botchan has contributed to the facilitation of the organizations with which he is involved and their vision for the future. For the biological sciences, Koshland said this involves generating more interaction between departments such as molecular and cell biology and integrative biology.

Campus spokesperson Michael Dirda said Botchan was appointed by former Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele to serve as dean in an interim capacity following Martin’s announcement that he would retire in 2016.

Last spring, the EVCP office and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty appointed a committee to conduct an internal search for the permanent dean position. Botchan was chosen from among three finalists by interim EVCP Carol Christ, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Vice Provost for the Faculty Ben Hermalin this spring, Dirda said.

“(Botchan) has a strong record of academic distinction. He has a very good understanding of the breadth and direction of research and education in biological sciences,” Dirda said. “He is an experienced fundraiser and administrator, and he has shown … commitment to diversity and promoting equity and inclusion, which were all criteria established by the search committee.”

Martin said there is no difference between Botchan’s responsibilities as interim and as permanent dean, clarifying that the appointment is “really only a procedural difference.”

Although Martin was not involved with the selection of Botchan as permanent dean, he said Botchan “is unquestionably a great choice.”

“He’s very highly respected as a scientist. … He’s a leading investigator in the field of DNA replication and known nationally and internationally in that field,” Martin said.

Contact Valerie Hsieh at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @valhsieh.