Paul Alivisatos named next executive vice chancellor, provost

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This piece has been updated with additional comments from Graduate Assembly President Kena Hazelwood-Carter.

Paul Alivisatos, the campus’s vice chancellor for research and director emeritus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been named the next executive vice chancellor and provost, or EVCP — UC Berkeley’s second-highest-ranking position — effective immediately.

As EVCP, Alivisatos will be responsible for the management of campus day-to-day administrative operations along with the planning and development of all academic programs.

He takes over for Chancellor Carol Christ, who served as EVCP on an interim basis after Claude Steele resigned in April 2016.

“This position is a very exciting and special one because we have a new chancellor coming in,” Alivisatos said in a sit-down with The Daily Californian. “I’m excited about working closely with her and the rest of the community so that Berkeley can really define what the future of public education is.”

As vice chancellor for research — responsible for overseeing and coordinating research efforts across more than 70 campus organizations — Alivisatos “sponsored a series of fora aimed at assessing and strengthening current opportunities for undergraduate research … and is also currently presiding over an end-to-end review of research funding systems and processes on the Berkeley campus,” according to a campus message from Christ announcing the EVCP appointment.

Alivisatos, who received his doctorate in chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1986 and joined the campus as a faculty member in 1988, said one reason he was drawn to Berkeley was because “(it) was always the community that challenged society to be better.”

“One thing that you learn even here as a student at Berkeley is to really go after hard problems and have trust in community-based solutions,” Alivisatos said in the interview. “I love this place. … I feel like my whole life has changed by being here.”

Melissa Murray, the former interim dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law and a member of the EVCP search committee, said in an emailed statement that Alivisatos “has a long and distinguished record of contributing to the Berkeley community, both in leadership positions and as a member of the Berkeley faculty,” noting that his “experience with research administration in the sciences will be particularly useful as the campus confronts various challenges.”

Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton — also a member of the EVCP search committee — said the committee searched for a candidate who would be “a top-notch administrator” and a “good partner with Chancellor Christ,” adding that the campus will be “well served” by Alivisatos’ appointment.

“One of the things important to our new chancellor is transparency in decision-making and leadership,” Sutton said. “We’re going to rely on Dr. Alivisatos in terms of setting and maintaining positive tone.”

Graduate Assembly President Kena Hazelwood-Carter — one of two students on the EVCP search committee, including ASUC Student Advocate Jillian Free — said Alivisatos’ experience “understanding what innovation looks like and means on an institutional level” will be “invaluable as part of the chancellor’s cabinet.”

Hazelwood-Carter added that she hopes Alivisatos continues to promote “more communication between the chancellor’s office and key stakeholders across campus.”

“I hope EVCP Alivisatos continues to carry forward … bringing in more voices (and) polling students faculty and staff,” Hazelwood-Carter said. “I think ultimately it’s going to be a wait and see. We know how Alivisatos was as vice chancellor for research, but we don’t know who he’s going to be as the EVCP.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.